Public Records

Hopefully you’re learning how to best get started with family history from the information that we’ve shared in past articles. At this point you should be working on a Pedigree ChartOpens New Window or Family Group SheetOpens New Window and filling in all of the information that you know about the family that you are researching.

If you are referring to these charts and sheets, you may be noticing that you have some gaps in your family history research. You might be missing a birth date, names of children, locations, etc.. You might also be wondering where to go next in order to find this information. To help locate this, we will now turn our attention to public records.

Public records are legal documents that contain information recorded at the time of an event. The importance of public records is that there is usually a witness at hand when this information is recorded. This helps to ensure more accuracy at the time this information is recorded.

Basic types of public records include Birth, Marriage, Death Certificates (also called “Vital Records”) and Census Records. Other types of public records include Wills, Probate and Land Records.

When you search for public records, you’ll need to know where the event took place in order to locate the record. The reason for this is because Public records are indexed and and stored in the location where the event took place.

Now, let’s assume that you’re missing a birth date for an individual. The question is, where would you find out what that birth date was? The answer to this would obviously be a Birth Certificate.