Now What: Birth Places

Now What: Birth Places

Q My mother’s Social Security application lists her birthplace as Trenton, NJ, but the city has no record of her birth. Where else can I look?   A. When an ancestor doesn’t appear where she’s “supposed to be” in vital records, keep in mind that...

Q My mother’s Social Security application lists her birthplace as Trenton, NJ, but the city has no record of her birth. Where else can I look?
 
A. When an ancestor doesn’t appear where she’s “supposed to be” in vital records, keep in mind that record-

keeping back when wasn’t as persnickety as it is today. Names and their spellings were equally flexible, so of course the first thing you should do is explore variants for your mother’s maiden name. Censuses and city directories can help with this, and they can narrow where your mother’s family lived in the years surrounding her birth.
 

Although New Jersey vital records are available from local registrars, you also can request them from the state Department of Health and Senior Services. Supply your mother’s full name, date of birth and the city or county where she was born. Because you’ve already struck out with Trenton proper, you might just say Mercer County, where Trenton is located. Birth records begin in 1901 and are available for deceased people born more than 80 years ago.

 
If that centralized source can’t help you, consider broadening your efforts to local registrars in towns near Trenton. Your mother may have told the Social Security Administration that she was born in Trenton because that’s the biggest city near her actual birthplace. Mercer County has 13 local registrars with vital records.
 
From the May/June 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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