The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Alternatives to Vital Records

Letter from Anna Combs to pension officer, War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files. Used with the permission of Shannon Bennett Combs

Letter from Anna Combs to pension officer, War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files. Used with the permission of Shannon Bennett

by Shannon Combs Bennett, Student

Alright, down to the final modules before I take the exam. The last two modules covered birth records and other documents that a researcher could use in the place of vital records. Which, if you have ancestors particularly in southern states, you need all the alternative ideas on finding records you can find.

I did know a lot of the alternative resources listed, but there were a few that made me think and want to explore more.  As I alluded to above, some states and counties have nearly non-existent records. If you are doing research in a burned county or a place that had a large natural disaster you will need to figure out ways to work around traditional vital records.

The list was extensive for alternative places that you could find vital records information, and I wanted to share a few here with you.

  • Court records (one of my favorite places to look, by the way Chancery records are amazing!)
  • Military records (have you seen what a pension file can hold?)
  • Immigration records (I am envious of those of you who can look here.)
  • Ship Lists (don’t forget, people came through other places than Ellis Island!)
  • Lineage societies (there are some amazing libraries and resources out there.)

In particular my greatest successes have come from military pension files, but service records, medical records, and histories can provide a lot of information too.  For example, in my 4th great grandfather’s 1812 pension file I discovered a handwritten note by his 2nd wife stating what he told her was his birth date.  As of the writing of this post that is the only date I have ever found for his birth.

The instructor also talks about using resources provided by lineage societies.  There are numerous lineage societies in this country and many of them have archives that you can visit and research at.  If you have never considered doing research at one of them you really should.  In module 6 the instructor mentions the website for the Daughters of the American Revolution.  This should be a go-to website for anyone with ancestors in the U.S. who date to the beginning of our country.  Their database can be searched online and their library is well worth a visit if you ever get the chance to visit Washington, D.C.

Well off to take my final.  Wish me good luck and see you online!

 

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