Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Are Vital Statistics?

Vital statistics are the records that mark the milestones of our lives. They can be defined as the official records kept on individuals, particularly birth and death certificates.

In some areas the government has required that records be kept for hundreds of years, while for others, the records only go back a little more than one hundred years. In order to find information about births, marriages and deaths before those records were kept by the government, you will likely need to consult church records.

What Information Will Be Available On A Birth Certificate?

Most birth certificates will include the child's full name and date of birth, sex. place the birth occurred as well as the parents' names. In some jurisdictions, the mother's maiden surname is included in the record and in some cases, the date and place of the parents' marriage is required. Some records have even requested the names and ages of any living or deceased siblings of the child, which obviously would be incredibly helpful if that information was available. The certificate will say who the informant was (usually the father or mother), and may state their relationship to the child.

What Information Will Be Available On A Marriage Certificate?

A certificate of marriage should contain the names and ages of both parties, bride and groom, the date and place the ceremony took place, who officiated at the marriage, and any witnesses. The fathers' of the bride and groom are usually included (sometimes with their occupations), and sometimes the mothers' names are included. The residence of both the bride and groom are usually included, but most times they are referred to as "of this parish" in church records, indicating they lived in that particular parish.

What Information Will Be Available On A Death Certificate?

A death certificate should contain the person's full name and age, their residence, their marital status, and the place and date of their death. Other information that may be included could be their spouse's name, the names of the person's parents, the doctor's name that treated the deceased, as well as the cause of death. Some records also give information about any children the deceased had. Of course, if the person who died was quite elderly, the information provided by a 3rd party may be incorrect or missing.

These are three of the most important documents that you will need to obtain on each person in your family tree that you are researching. Obviously you can't get these documents for ALL your ancestors and great-great-aunts and uncles, because the cost would be too much. But you can record the information and where the it is located for those relatives not directly in your line.

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