Vermont, Town Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Vermont Town Records, 1850-2005 .
We are welcoming contributors for FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. These articles are a part of
WikiProject: FamilySearch Historical Records. Thank you for any contributions you may provide
Collection Time Period
This collection contains town records for the years 1850 to 2005.
The earliest records are called proprietors’ records. After the proprietors sold their lands, the town clerk was the principal local record keeper. Town records generally begin with the founding of a town and are kept to the present.
Town records encompass a wide variety of record types and events and can contain records of births, marriages, deaths, burials, cemeteries, appointments, earmarks, strays (records of stray animals), military records, freemen’s oaths (men eligible to vote), land and property records, mortgages, name changes, care of the poor, school records, surveys, tax lists, town meeting minutes, voter registrations, and warnings out of town.
Births: When a birth occurs, the physician, midwife, or other birth attendant is required to complete a birth certificate and file it with the town clerk in the town of birth within 10 days. For hospital births, it is usually the medical records staff that completes the birth certificate. The completed birth certificate is recorded and filed in the town where the birth took place, and a certified copy is sent to the Health Department.
Deaths: Although a physician is responsible for filing the death certificate, the job may be, and often is, delegated to the funeral director. Most of the information needed to complete the death certificate is obtained from the family of the deceased. A physician, however, must complete the cause of death information and sign the death certificate. The funeral director files the completed certificate with the town clerk who sends a certified copy to the Health Department.
Marriage and Civil Unions: When a couple wishes to marry or establish a civil union in Vermont, they provide a town clerk with the information needed to complete the license. The couple takes the license to an officiant who signs and dates it and returns it to the town clerk. The town clerk records and files the certificate, and sends a certified copy to the Health Department.
Why this Record Was Created
The first settlers of Vermont carried on the early New England tradition of recording events at the town level by town clerks/treasurers. These event recordings established and delineated legal/social relationships according to the attendant norms of Vermont, and, generally the United States.
Towns in Vermont also recorded land transactions to document the transfer of land ownership and thereby establish legal rights to land, track responsibilities for taxes, and designate persons to serve in various county functions, such as maintaining public roads in earlier times.
The information given in town records is generally reliable; however, there can be transcription errors in records that undergo this copying process. The vital records are incomplete before mandatory registration began in 1857.
The records are handwritten or typewritte on preprinted pages which have been bound into volumes. The collection consists of vital records (births, marriages, and deaths), cemetery records, and burial and removal permits. They are arranged by town, then by record type, then by date. The content and completeness of the records varies by town.
The following important biographical facts may be found in the birth records:
• Child’s name
• Child’s sex
• Birth date
• Birth place
• Registration date
• Parent’s names
• Parent’s residence
• Father’s occupation
• Parent’s birth places
The following important biographical facts may be found in the marriage records:
• Full name of bride and groom
• Marriage date
• Marriage place
• Residence of bride and groom
• Age of bride and groom
• Groom’s occupation
• Birth place of bride and groom
• Parents of bride and groom
• What number of marriage for bride and groom
The following important biographical facts may be found in the death records:
• Name of deceased
• Death date
• Death place
• Age in days, months, and years
• Marital status
• Cause of death
• Birth place
• Name of parents
• Social Security number
• Birth date
• Military service
• Surviving spouse
• Parent’s names
• Informant’s names
• Informant’s residence
The following important biographical facts may be found in the burial or removal records:
• Name of person certificate is issued to
• City or town
• Death date
• Name of deceased
• Age of deceased
• Cause of death
• Medical attendant
• Purposed date of burial or removal
• Purposed place of burial or removal
• Undertaker’s address
• Name and title of person issuing permit
• Permit date
In addition these records may also contain Land and property and Military records.
How to Use the Record
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:
• The place where the birth, marriage, or death occurred.
• The name of the person at the time of the event.
• The approximate date the event occurred.
•The name of the individual or individuals such as the names of the bride and groom, the infant, or the deceased.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
• Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
• Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names. • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
• Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
• Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
• Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
• The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
• Use a marriage number to identify previous marriages.
• The name of the undertaker or mortuary could lead you to funeral and cemetery records which often include the names and residences of other family members.
• Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom, this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
• Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
• When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Keep in mind:
• The information in these records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
• Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
• There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
• Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
• Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
• Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
How Has This Article Helped You?
Related Web Sites
This section of the article is incomplete. You can help FamilySearch Wiki by supplying links to related websites here.
Related Wiki Articles
Sources of This Collection
“Vermont Town Records, 1850-2005," database, FamilySearch Record Search, 2010. Digital copies of originals housed in town halls in various counties throughout Vermont.
How to Cite Your Sources