Substitute Records For United States Birth Information

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For most of the United States, births were not recorded on a state level until after 1900.  Because so few birth records exist, other records are used to locate birth information.  Use the list of records below to locate records that may give the birth date and place of your ancestor:

Death Records
  • County death records often include the age of the deceased
  • State death records ask for the birth date, place and names of parents of the deceased
  • Find death records
Social Security Application and Death Index
Census Records
  • U.S. Federal Census records from 1850 to 1940 give the age and state or country of birth for each household member
  • 1900 Census gives the month and year of birth
  • U.S. Federal Census records from 1880 to 1940 give relationships to the head of household including children
  • Search U.S. Census Records on FamilySearch
Cemetery Records
  • Tombstone inscriptions include the birth year and sometimes the complete birth date
  • Some cemeteries have sexton records which include additional information about the deceased including the birth date and place
  • On some immigrant tombstones, the place of birth is included on the tombstone
  • Many cemetery inscriptions have been published online.
Church Records
  • Some denominations include birth date, place and parents' names in baptismal records
  • Some denominations include the deceased's age in burial records
  • How to locate church records
Military Records
Bible Records
  • Birth dates and sometimes places can be included in the front of family Bible
  • Parents can also be included
  • Family Bible records can be located at local libraries and repositories. Some are published on websites.