READER'S FEEDBACK: Stillborn
From: Ann Rivera
How does one even know if a family ever experienced a stillborn birth, or death
of a small child between censuses, if the child never appeared in a census to
begin with? Just curious, as I came across some stillborn record births and it
occurred to me that I wouldn't even look at these if I never had any reason to
believe there was such a birth.
What a great question! I attended a class yesterday where the instructor Tricia
Williams was discussing the importance of using census records in our
genealogical research. She has a friend in the class who detests censuses
because newbie researchers focus on those and don't look for other records out
there that are considered more reliable. Tricia graciously pointed out that:
CENSUS RECORDS PLACE OUR ANCESTORS in a specific place at a specific time, so we
are then able to look in that place for OTHER RECORDS IN THAT SPECIFIC PLACE
that have survived from the time period our ancestors lived.
How do you know any such death records exist? We cannot make generalizations,
since each county, state or country set its own rules for when vital records
should begin to be kept. I'd look at:
-- the RESEARCH OUTLINE from
for the state or country where the ancestors lived. Expect to find a listing of
the types of vital records and the dates when they began to be kept.
-- the HANDYBOOK FOR GENEALOGISTS mentioned often in ol' Myrt's columns, which
list specific counties in each state and when records began to be kept,
including which have been known to survive.
-- USGenWeb - Visit http://www.USGenWeb.com
to see what is known about surviving records by other experienced researchers
for those areas where your ancestors once lived.
-- STATE OR TERRITORIAL CENSUS - Find out about these at USGenWeb or in the
-- The (FHL) FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY CATALOG at
Be sure to look for each locality at the county (or town level in New England)
in the appropriate states. Remember the microfilm of public vital records is a
priority, and the FHL has records from over 80 countries throughout the world.
Once you find a likely microfilm, print out the page, and take it with you to
your local LDS Family History Center to order the microfilm. It will cost about
$5.50 and will arrive in a few weeks. Good luck!
I agree with you that it is important to document "complete" families, not just
the one son or daughter of our direct lineage. I certainly would not wish to
exclude a sibling from a family unit merely because he didn't live the ten years
Happy family tree climbing!