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How to Locate a Marriage Record

After successfully documenting your ancestor’s death using various resources such as an obituary, death certificate, and existing headstone, the next major event that you will want to document is a marriage record. Marriage records are a little more difficult to access because often only the index is available online. This post will discuss how to locate a marriage, and suggest substitute records that you can use to show a marriage took place in case you cannot locate an original record.

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African American Genealogy: More Ways to Document a Death

In How to Document a Death, we shared a few of the most common resources for learning more about your ancestor’s death. The death event generated many different ways to learn more about a person. Even if a person is not present in a record where they were mentioned consecutively in the past, that can become a clue to the possible date of death. You will learn the most by making it a point of including a few more record types in your search.

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African American Genealogy: How to Document a Death

One of the most common events that beginning researchers attempt to document is an ancestor’s death. Most become familiar right away with death certificates, but when there are challenges finding or accessing a death certificate, it is helpful to know about additional records. It is a good practice to search these additional records in case there are errors or incomplete information on the death certificate. 

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Sample the Low Hanging Fruit First

In Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned and Relying on One Source Type, we discussed the pitfalls that family historians can unknowingly fall into.  Another very common mistake is rushing back too quickly in an imagined race to find direct ancestors.  This more often that not creates research challenges. Below we share better principles to follow in discovering ancestors.

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Family History Research: Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned

Family history research is one of the most rewarding adventures that you can experience. What makes it most rewarding is how it brings family members and communities closer as discoveries are made. There are many ways to have success in the process of finding, recording, and sharing what you learn, but there are also common mistakes that researchers share. Whether you have just begun or if you have been on your genealogy journey for a while, follow the wisdom below to avoid pitfalls along the way.

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Family History in Photographs

As we embark on our journey in family history, we sometimes neglect the resources right within our reach. We spend time online searching for records that may already be in the homes of our extended family. Before you set out to look for resources to document your ancestor, you need to exhaust the resources found at home or in the possession of family members. This is a first in a series of posts on resources for family history in your home.

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Letter from Freedmen Robert Hamilton and Patrick Allston Requesting Rations, Beaufort County, SC, 1868

Freedmen’s Bureau records are such a rich resource for African American genealogy and history. From these records, you can learn so much about what was happening where your ancestors were living just after the end of the Civil War. But, even in Freedmen’s Bureau records, it’s rare to find a document written by a freed person, and to be able to hear that person’s voice in the document.

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Sold on the Courthouse Steps

An auction block at a commercial slave market is probably the most common visual that comes to mind when you think of people being separated from families during enslavement. You may be familiar with the sale of enslaved people through private parties, but numerous people were also sold through local courts with the courthouse as their backdrop. How would you find documentation of such cases, and what are examples of situations that would have brought about this end result? One quick way to find clues would be through historical newspapers.

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1878 Election Mayhem Documents Freedmen

Even though a vital record or a census can help you learn the names of forbears and where they lived, this minimal information is not sufficient enough to tell their story. Delve a little deeper in your search, and you may uncover the sweet finds that help you tell the story of your ancestor’s life.

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Death Certificates Make Genealogy Come to Life

In “Where a Death Certificate Can Lead,” we showed how you can use the census and city directories to learn more about the spouse and children of a deceased ancestor. We were able to identify the children of Joseph Barnett from census records, and we used a city directory to locate his daughter, Janie, and her husband. Hopefully, you also submitted the records you were able to find using the death certificate. We will now discuss other details on a death certificate that could make your genealogy come to life.

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