In a few of the birth collections on Ancestry, you will find the indexes that link to images of actual birth 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 birth record. The full record will include details not found in the index. We also maintain a list of links to state vital records agencies in the Ancestry Library.
Birth records can provide details about your family member’s birth and for baptism records, religious affiliation. They typically contain the name, date and place of the event, parents’ names, ages, birthplaces, occupation, and residence.
Birth, baptism, and christening records are primary resources for family history research because they were typically created at or shortly after the birth, making the record more likely to be accurate. This collection includes indexes that can help you request the record, and in some cases, actual images of the birth records.
- Look for ages and places of birth in Census Records to estimate birth dates and focus your search.
- Seek out the birth records for all family members. Information found on the records of siblings may include helpful details that aren’t found on your ancestor’s record.
- When you find a record in a birth index, always follow up and request the original record. The source information and description on the collection page will tell you where the records are held.
- If you’re looking for a common name, try adding the father and mother’s given names to narrow your search.
- Keep in mind that when civil registration first began, everyone complied immediately. When you can't locate a civil birth record, look for censues (Federal and State) and City Directories that can place your ancestor in a particular place around the time of the birth. Then investigate churches in the area where other birth-related records, such as baptism may have been created.