Now What? Midwife Records

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Q. I’m looking for an ancestor born before his hometown began keeping birth records. Would his birth be in the records of the midwife who delivered him?

A. It’s a long shot, but worth investigating. Though midwives’ records varied, they often contained medical notes on each birth and the names of the parents responsible for paying for the midwife’s services. When midwives retired or died, their records were often simply disposed of, but they occasionally ended up in some library or archive. Check local university and historical society libraries.

Also try searching the FamilySearch catalog for the place where your ancestor was born, and then scrolling the results under Vital Records. You can add the keyword midwives or midwife to your search. A similar search might succeed at the WorldCat online catalog of libraries worldwide World Cat, which now includes FamilySearch’s Family History Library (FHL). You’d need to borrow the records through interlibrary loan or (for FHL materials) through a local FamilySearch Center.

Midwives’ records may have been transcribed and published in a journal indexed in the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). You can search this index at many libraries through HeritageQuest Online, or on the subscription site

From the September 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine