Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Genealogy Birth of a Nation

Who would have thought that genealogy could be so much fun? Library Director Mick Stafford gave us a primer on how to find birth records (also called vital statistics or civil registration).

Why birth records? A birth certificate is an instant connection to the prior generation since the parents’ names are on a child’s certificate. As Mick said, you can “unlock another generation.”

One book is the best one-stop shop for vital records from around the world. It’s called the Vital Records Handbook. Its online equivalent is the free Mormon website, Mick gave us some tips on how to search these huge databases. Don’t just jump right in and type a name in the search box, especially if the name is John Smith or James Johnson.

Click on the wiki button. A wiki is a website that anyone can add information to. In this wiki, you will find record by place (country, county, or state). If you can narrow your search on the front end, you won’t get so many false positives or bad searches.

Another source is the subscription database, This is available in the library for free, so unless you want to search in the comfort of your own home, don’t pay for this. Mick invited Sharon Samson up to search for her father, Wilhelm Frederich Schmidt. At first we didn't see him in the database. Mick explained that there can be a number of errors such as the date range could be wrong or the name has been transcribed inaccurately.

In Sharon’s case, since the name didn't come up with her father, we removed the middle name to see if we could find him. Still we could not. So, we removed the first and middle names, but added a birth date. Voila, to Sharon’s delight, we found her father. She now will write the proper county office to get a copy of his birth record.

One final word of wisdom: approach searching by having a goal as we did this morning in looking for the birth records of our forebears. Also, Mick has a favorite ancestor, a bar owner whose father was a policemen. Who could figure?

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