1. Family stories
2. Vital records
As we’ve mentioned, some states restrict access more than others. For example, New Jersey law restricts the release of vital records—meaning vital records aren’t open to the public and you can’t search them online. But some older records (June 1878 to 1900) have been transferred to the Division of Archives. Some vital records from 1901 to 1940 are on microfilm and available to genealogists—check with the state archives and run a place search of the Family History Library (FHL) catalog. If the state doesn’t have records you need, contact vital records offices in the city or county where the event occurred.
But if you’re looking for Pennsylvania vital records online you’re not likely to have the same luck. Check Family Tree Magazine’s “10 Best Websites for Vital Records” and other helpful online guides such as Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records and Online Birth and Marriage Records Indexes for the USA for help.
3. Church records
4. Funeral home records
5. Fraternal organization records
You also might find fraternal organization records and publications at educational institutions such as the Center for Research Libraries, which acquires newspapers (click the Collections tab, then Our Collection, and then scroll down to Newspapers and click US Ethnic Newspapers). The University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies also have special ethnic collections. Records aren’t always indexed, so be sure to browse the collections fully. Can’t get there to do research? Ask your local librarian about borrowing materials through interlibrary loan.
Sure, good things may come to those who wait. But with all the current-day threats to the survival and accessibility of genealogy records, the best research results often happen for the genealogist who acts now.
- Records References <familytreemagazine.com/info/recordreferences>
- The Courthouse Rules <familytreemagazine.com/article/the-courthouse-rules-1>
- 10 Best Websites for Vital Records<familytreemagazine.com/article/10-vital-records-web-sites>
- Fraternal organization records <familytreemagazine.com/article/secret-signs>
- Researching house histories <familytreemagazine.com/article/house-hunting>
- Vital records online<familytreemagazine.com/article/vital-signs>
- Family Tree Essentials CD <shopfamilytree.com/product/family-tree-essentials-cd>
- Vital Records webinar recording <shopfamilytree.com/product/vital-records-research-online-recording>
- The Family Tree Problem Solver <shopfamilytree.com/product/family-tree-problem-solver>