African American Vital Records
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Searching Vital Records
Before searching vital records you must know:
To obtain vital record guidance online, go to www.vitalrec.com. Search for:
Use birth records to learn an ancestor's full birth date and place, and the parents' names.
Birth records may contain:
Birth records may not be as available as death records as they were not required until the early 1900s.
Use marriage records to learn an ancestor's:
Look for a marriage record near the time when and place where the first child was born.
Freedman's Bureau Marriages
Use death records to learn an ancestor's:
Look for a death record before a birth or marriage record. It is more likely to be available and can provide clues for locating the other documentation.
Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) can be used to find birth and death information for 63 million U.S. residents who have died since 1936. Most records are for deaths after 1962. The Social Security application lists full birth dates and parents' names.
The SSDI may list an ancestor's:
Searching the SSDI
Before searching the SSDI you must know the ancestor's name and an approximate death year (1936 or later).
The SSDI is online by going to: Searching the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) in One Step; or Social Security Death Index (SSDI). The SSDI is online and also available at the Family History Library on CD-ROM No. 9 pt. 110 discs 1 and 2.
Social Security Applications
Use the Social Security application to:
The following form is used to order a copy of the Social Security Application. The address of the agency where the request should be mailed is included, along with the cost of the copy.
Vital Records in Various Time Periods
African American Vital Records since 1900
Vital records are the cornerstones of genealogy research. The events of birth, marriage and death function as anchors in the lives of ancestors. Determining the events of a person's life between birth and death helps to tell the story of that person and, in part, the story of the America in which that person lived or traveled during the course of their lifespan. For example, a young person dying in the Civil War tells a tale of that era or a Depression Era marriage in Arizona may illuminate the life of an Illinois farm family who had relocated.
Even though these events are so important to genealogical and historical research, they can often be difficult to track down. For the most part, three different institutions take a vested interest in tracking vital records: religious organizations, governments and families. When these traditional institutions fail to collect or maintain the information, it can be difficult to recover the documents.
Among the three groups, hints to the vital records in question can often be gleaned from at least one of the sources. If a county courthouse burned in Virginia during the Civil War, maybe the local church survived. If there was no church in the area, perhaps a family member recorded events in a journal or Bible.
Vital records 1900 back to 1870
Between the colonial settlement and the 20th century, one major problem recurred over time between the East Coast and the western states. On a rolling basis, there were no governments or churches to record the information, as people were often settling in advance of those institutions. If there were territorial governments in place, they were often not obligating local authorities to track the births, deaths or marriages of area residents. This being the case, the first step is to determine in what state or territory your ancestors lived. For example, someone living in Virginia in 1780 may have truly been located in what is now Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania or Maryland. Likewise, someone listed as living in the Indiana Territory may have been in Detroit. As these governmental units developed and solidified their boundaries, the county lines were still evolving. County-level histories and Websites can help to determine the exact boundaries encircling the family being researched.
At times there will be no other option but to look for vital information in unexpected places. Marriage records have been found placed amongst land records. A court case may prove a person living at a given time. The will of a distant relative may provide the information needed or at least prove a relationship. Tax records may indicate the age of an individual.
Use vital records of births, deaths, and marriages to learn about an ancestor's birth, death, or marriage in a given town, county, or state.
Pre 1870 Slave vs Free
African American genealogy, 1850-1880 : cities, towns, counties, states, deaths, causes of death, place of birth & death
System requirements: Win 3.1 & Win 95, Win98.
If you are using a computer in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, you may use this database by clicking here. "Birth and death information extracted from federal census records. Records names, ages, causes of death and location of death. Cities , town, counties are shown." - www.gencd.com
Includes information from the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
- Cyndi's List: Taxes
- Genealogical Research in the Maine State Archives
- Illinois Statewide Vital Records
- Genealogy, People of the Three Fires
- Ohio Historical Society State Archives, Online Death Index, 1913-1937
- U.S. Vital Records By State
- Unraveling the 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules
- Washington Secretary of State, Digital Archives
- Washtenaw County Clerk/Register's Office. Search and Order Records
- West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Vital Research Records Search Selection
- Wisconsin Historical Society, Pre-1907 Vital Records