Find ancestors through Vital Records

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Beginners can use State Vital Records to locate ancestors[edit | edit source]

Searching vital records such as birth, marriage, death can be found in most state records. States hold many different records, and some have placed their records online for all to see.

Here is an example[edit | edit source]

Utah Death Certificate DGS 4120992 426.jpg

Click to enlarge

This example could be used on any other state's records

A Patron came to the library desk asking for help find a copy of a death certificate.
On a microfilm of a 1949 index of death certificates, she found two records. The year was right and the name was right, but she wanted a copy of the record. She had forgotten to write down what she had found. We looked it up again; the next step was to order the microfilm from the Vault. She was okay with having to order the film because she was going to be here until this coming weekend.

I ask her if she had tried any other resources. I asked her if she knew about the Research Wiki. She didn't know anything about the Research Wiki, so I explained it to her and gave her the website address.

We looked on the Research Wiki to see if the records were available anywhere else. Right there - listed in the vital records section for the state she needed was a link to FamilySearch Record Search! And the collection in Record Search included the actual images!!!!

Less than a minute later we had a printout of the death certificate she needed.

Example of Records that can be found in Utah[edit | edit source]

Each state will have its own resources for Vital Records. Utah is used as an example.

 Births & Death[edit | edit source]

Look at Death Certificates from 1904 - 1956

  • Link to Family History Library
    Vital Records Collage.JPG
  • Search FamilySearch Historical Records
  • This will result in finding a Death Certifcate

 Guide to Vital Records [edit | edit source]

  • You can learn more about the history and availability of Utah vital records through the Internet at Bureau of Vital Records and Utah State Archives Internet sites.
  • The following book also provides information. The Utah State Board of Health sponsored the survey in 1941.
  • Guide to Public Vital Statistics of Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Historical Records Survey, 1941.The book has four sections: birth, death, marriage, and divorce.
  • United States Vital records State department of Health or County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.

Territorial Records 
[edit | edit source]

  • Territorial vital records are on a compact disc for the 1800s to 1906. This index contains birth, marriage, guardianship, naturalization, divorce records and wills.
  • The Utah State Archives now has digital copies of death records online for the years 1905 thru 1958. You can search the index and access the digital images at:

Major repositories[edit | edit source]

Repositories Family History Library · Utah State Archives · Brigham Young University LibrarySalt Lake City Public Library · University of Utah · National Archives Rocky Mountain Region (Denver) ·

Tips[edit | edit source]

  • If you are unable to locate vital records recorded by goverments; search for church records of christenings, marriage, death and burial.
  • Family Bibles may have been used to record births, marriage, and deaths
  • Privacy laws may restrict your access to some vital records.
  • Prepare as much information on your ancestor as you can find (names, birthdate, marriage date, death date, places of where these events occurred).
  • Decide what you want to learn about your ancestor.
  • Go to the State you think holds the records of your ancestors.
  • As you evaluate the information you have found, ask yourself if there are any clues that might help you find other information.
  • Be sure to preserve what you have found, and keep good records.