Birth, Marriage & Death Records

Did you notice what happened this week  at Ancestry.com? They released over 50 databases containing indexes to millions of vital records from all over the United States. Some of these records date all the way back the 1600s and the most recent of them are from last year. (You can find the complete list by viewing our recently added or updated collections list. Most of these databases were released on 17 Oct.):

I love discovering my ancestors and tracking down their descendants. I climb up a branch of my family tree to a set of 3rd or 4th great-grandparents and then back down again finding all of their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, right down to those living cousins. I enjoy chasing families through census records, seeing where they pop up and what their family looks like decade after decade.

But, birth, marriage and death records provide more concrete boundaries to the lives my ancestors and their families lived. These records provide anchor events that I can use to build complete family histories as I chase my relatives up the family tree and out the branches. If census records are the cornerstone of good genealogy research, then vital records are the capstone.

With that said, you can probably imagine what a week like this, with so many new vital records resources being made available all at once, does to my attention span. It’s been all I could do to avoid the BMD search page during work hours this week. I’ve been good and gone to bed at a decent hour every night with barely a peek at two or three or seven of these databases. But, the weekend is FINALLY here!  Hours and hours of uninterrupted searching are within sight.

I want to track my maternal grandmother’s family through Arkansas and Missouri then back intoTennessee.

I want to find my paternal grandfather’s relatives in Ohio and West Virginia.

I want to see if I can find my 4th great-grandparents marriage record. Will it be in Pennsylvania? MaybeVirginia?

Oh, and, what about those “lost” cousins I’ve been looking for? Did they end up in Michigan orMinnesota?

MUST. FOCUS.

Here’s the plan. I’ve printed a copy of the page that lists all of the new databases. I’m just going to start at the top and work my way down, checking them off as I go. For each database I’ll do a filtered search in my Family Tree Maker file to see which families were living in that state during the time period listed. Then I’ll search that database to see if I can get dates for the vital events in their lives. I’ll also be sure to search birth records by parents’ names only to make sure all the children in a family are accounted for. Oh, and I’ll search marriage records by the name of each spouse individually to make sure there aren’t other marriages recorded. And then I’ll need to…

There just aren’t enough hours in the weekend, I’m afraid. But, I guess there are worse problems than having too many records and too little time. It just means I may have to cut my date short tonight so I can get started a little sooner. (Hey – I said, cut it short, not cancel. I can control my genealogy addictionobsession habit passion. Whatever.)

So, talk to me.  What’s your plan for checking out these databases? Who are you looking for AND where do you think you will find them?

Until next time – Have fun climbing around in your family tree, no matter which direction you decide to go!

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