Where Will I Find Certain Information for My Family Tree?

List of Resources and information for your family tree

It can make the task of building your family tree much easier if you know where to find certain specific information. We have compiled a list of places where you should be able to locate specific pieces of genealogical information on an ancestor.

Sources to find:

Exact birth date:
Certificate of birth
Baptismal record
Passport records
Death certificate (Note: Only as reliable as the available source at the time)
Social Security Death Index
Some draft and military records
Newspaper announcements

Approximate year of birth:
Marriage license
Census data*
Immigration and Emigration records
Probate records
Ship passenger lists
Cemetery records

*Census and other records that show an individual’s age can narrow an individual’s birth date to within one calendar year of the date of the event being recorded. A census performed in April of 1880 for instance may show an individual is 20 years old. Then, deductively, we know that individual was born between April of 1859 and March of 1860.  This information can be extremely useful for filling out your family tree.

Location of birth:
Census (Census records may also identify the region of birth. Either by country or by state.)
Bible records
Land records
Immigration and Emigration records
Naturalization records

Marriage date:
Marriage license
Census (some census forms indicate number of years married)

Maiden name:
Death certificate
Children’s birth certificate
Children’s baptismal certificate
Marriage record or marriage certificate

City directories
Draft registration cards

Physical Description:
Draft registration
Civil war enlistment record
U.S. Passport application (many passport applications after about 1895 include a photograph)

Date of death:
Death certificate
Coroner’s report
Newspaper articles and obituaries
Cemetery records
Narrow to date using muster rolls (if served in a war)