In a few of the vital records collections on Ancestry, you will find the indexes that link to images of actual records. In other cases, there are indexes that contain information that will help you request the record. If you find your ancestor in an index, be sure to click on the database title and look at the description to learn how to request the actual record. The full record will typically include details not found in the index. We also maintain a list of links to state vital records agencies in the Ancestry Library.
These records, collectively known as vital records, can provide details about important milestones in your ancestors’ lives. They include information like the event date and place, parents’ names, occupation and residence. The cause of death is also included in most death records.
Vital records are a cornerstone of family history research because they were typically created at or near the time of the event, making the record more likely to be accurate. This category includes indexes that can help you request copies from vital records keepers, and in some cases the images of actual records.
- To narrow your search, estimate birth dates using information found in the Census and in other records.
- Narrow your search for marriage records by looking at the age and birthplace of the first child. This information can also be found in Census Records. Start your search a year or two prior to the child’s birth and gradually widen your search back (and forward) in time until you locate the record.
- Track your ancestor year to year in City Directories to help zero in on death dates and places. Husbands who predecease their wives will typically stop being listed after death and you’ll often find the wife in his place, listed as "widow."
- Court records like wills can help you estimate death dates.