Now What?: Genealogy Records of Stillborn Infants

Now What?: Genealogy Records of Stillborn Infants

Where to look for genealogical records of children who were stillborn or died shortly after birth.

Q. Any ideas on how to find genealogy information on a baby who was stillborn or died shortly after birth?

A. Many genealogy experts suggest considering the possibility of miscarriages or stillbirths anytime an ancestral couple went several years between children.

How stillborn babies or those who lived only a short time were recorded varies by the area, so check both birth and death records.

First, you’ll need to find out when vital records begin in the state where the child was born—you can use our downloadable vital records chart.

Then visit the state vital records office Web site (the Where to Write for Vital Records Web site can help you find it) to see what its guidelines are for requesting the record.

If the child was born before statewide vital record keeping began, use a reference such as the Red Book (Ancestry) to see if the county kept earlier records on its own. Then call or check the county clerk or health department Web site for inforamtion on requesting records.

The Family History Library has microfilmed many birth and death records; do a place search of the Family History Library catalog on the county and look for a vital records heading. You can rent the film by visiting a Family History Center near you.

You also may be able to find birth and death records in an online database such as the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot SiteMissouri Digital Heritage (Delaware, Ohio, Louisiana, etc.), and Arizona Genealogy.  You can search on the parents’ names, or try typing “stillborn” into the first name field.

Also look for cemetery records and check the area around the parents’ graves for a small stone, which may indicate an infant was buried there.

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