How to Find Birth Records
Hello. I'm Richard Goms. We're in Salt Lake City, Utah and we're talking about how to find birth records. In most states, birth records can be obtained through a state agency called the division of vital statistics. It has different names in different states, but basically they have vital records -- birth, death and marriage records. And most states have kept those records since 1906, approximately. It depends on the state. Some states are harder to get information from than others. In most states, there's a seventy year moratorium on, because of privacy laws. And unless you are the person looking for the death record for themselves, or if you're related and need that -- I'm sorry, birth record. If you're the person looking for that birth record for yourself for legal purposes or unless you are a relative looking for that birth record for, again, legal issues such as a will, substantiating a will or something like that. It's very difficult to get that information. If the person is deceased and you need the birth certificate, then you can go to a number of different sources on the web that are available. One is the Social Security Death Index. Now that is available in a number of different places on the Internet. The most common place is the Familysearch.org. And you can look up that individual that has passed away up through a very current date, 2005, 2006. The Index gives a little bit of information about the person, but then you can order the actual application which gives more detail about where the person was born. And from there, you can actually order the birth certificate from the state in which that person was born. Prior to 1906, most vital documents were kept in the county, as far as the United States goes anyway, they were kept in the county of the birth or the marriage or the death. And this goes back to approximately around 1870 or so, depending on the state. Prior to 1870, you would have to know which church the person belonged to and would have to contact that church in the area in which the person lived that would have record of the birth, the baptism, the marriage and the death. Another method is to go through the local newspapers. Now, if you don't have an exact date, that's a little difficult to go through the newspapers. Although, most newspapers a long time ago were only published on a weekly basis. So, you might not have too many to go through. Now I just had, a few years ago, had an opportunity to look for a family that their children were born prior to the 1906 earthquake in San Fransisco. And the county records had all been destroyed and the state had not yet taken over the management of the vital records. Recently, online, a new website became available that was a newspaper called The San Fransisco Call newspaper. In it, it was indexed, and in the index, I found the birth of the children. I found the marriages of the parents and was able to write them. And it cost me a little bit of money -- well, it didn't cost any money to look it up in the index, but if I wanted more detail, I had to write and pay a little bit to get the copy of the actual article that announced the birth or the marriage.