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Birth Records as Primary Evidence
Beginning Genealogy Lesson #1

DearREADERS, Welcome to the wonderful world of family history!  They tend to call it that sometimes since "genealogy" sounds so formal.  Whatever we decide to call it, we're going to have fun this year learning how to discover your roots.  Indeed, Alex Hailey stirred up a lot of interest in the subject with his famous television mini-series called ROOTS.

One of the first concepts to grasp is the idea of starting with yourself and working backwards in time.  This is the opposite of taking your surname (last name at birth) and finding an original immigrant, and trying to trace through his descendants until you connect to your parents.  The second choice of action simply is not an option.  Your great-great grandparents can have over 1,000 descendants.  Complicate that with a name like Smith or Jones, and you have a real headache brewing.

Sample Birth Certificate Application Form
Click to view larger image.

Click to view sample birth application form

Sample Delayed Birth Certificate
Click to view larger image.

Click to see larger view of delayed birth certificate sample.

Sample Bible Entry of Birth
Click to view larger image.
Click to view larger sample bible entry for birth

THIS WEEK:  Your assignment is to get a copy of your birth certificate, proving your parentage.  While you are at it, gather ANY other family history type documents together so we can begin to discuss and organize them.

This will work except for cases of adoptions, where the original birth record was altered to reflect the adoptive parents.  Adoptees will have another row to hoe.  You have a perfect right to pursue your adopted line.  Or you may choose to discover your bloodline.  

WHERE TO LOOK:

Online: 

  • www.vitalchek.com  - Vitalchek Network, Inc. provides info for you to contact the US state or county agency in charge, or will for fee process the order for you.
Sample page for Washington State from VitalChek.com
WASHINGTON STATE CENTER FOR HEALTH STATISTICS

This agency issues certified copies of vital records. The types of records issued and fees for issuance are described below. TO ORDER ONLINE OR BY FAX and charge the certificate to your credit card CLICK BELOW.

CENTER FOR HEALTH STATISTICS
P O Box 9709
OLYMPIA , WA 98507-9709
General: 360.236.4313
Information: 360.236.4300
Fax: 360.352.2586

  http://www.doh.wa.gov/topics/chs-cert.html

 

Offline:

International Vital Records Handbook by Thomas Jay Kemp, 4th Edition. Copyright 2000. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company.

Birth records are considered PRIMARY sources of information - a legal document.  They generally were created at the time the event happened.  Contrast this with a birth announcement in a newspaper.  It could have all sorts of human errors in it, since those other than the immediate family and physician are involved in creating, typesetting and publishing the article.  Newspaper articles are considered SECONDARY sources of information, since the stories RETELL what people think happened.  As competent family historians, we are thankful for the CLUES left in secondary sources, but try to gather as many primary sources as possible to prove our lineages.

YES, "competent" is a word we will use to describe your family tree climbing abilities. -- Next week we'll discuss obtaining a genealogy program to file your compiled family history names, dates, places and notes!

For Further Reading:

Where to Write for Vital Records http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm 

Cyndi's List - Adoption: http://www.cyndislist.com/adoption.htm  

Class dismissed!
Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
DearMYRTLE,
www.DearMYRTLE.com  


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