Genealogy Search Tips

11 Tips for Finding Birth Information

Discover an Ancestor's Place of Birth, Date of Birth, Father's Name, Mother's Maiden Name and More

These Search Tips explain where you can find an individual's birth date, place of birth, parents and more. The sources of the birth information are also discussed.

The Tips also discuss the primary sources of the birth information. A parent or hospital might be the source of information on a birth certificate, while the individual might be the source of information on a marriage license application and a son or daughter might be the source on a death certificate.

Social Security Death Index

In many cases you can find the birth date of a deceased US citizen in the Social Security Death Index.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) provides information about deceased people who had registered with Social Security - many people born before 1900 had registered. See our discussion of the Social Security Death Index.

World War I Draft Registration Card

If you are looking for the birth date of a male who was living in the United States between June, 1917 and September, 1918 you might try looking for a copy of his World War I Draft Registration Card.

All males born between 1872 and 1900 were required to register for the draft and the birth date was one of the questions. See our discussion of Military Records for additional information.

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World War II Draft Registration Card

If you are looking for the birth date of a male who was living in the United States in 1942 you might try looking for a copy of his World War II Draft Registration Card.

All males born between April 28, 1877 and February 16, 1897 were required to register for the draft and the birth date was one of the questions. See our discussion of Military Records for additional information.

Military Records

Military records for the different branches of service are good places to find birth dates. For example an individual's enlistment records should contain the individual's date of birth.

In most cases military records are an accurate source of birth dates because the individual submitted information about himself or herself while still young. See our discussion of Military Records for additional information.

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Funeral Home Memorial Cards

Funeral home memorial cards are a good source of birth dates. These are the small cards that the funeral home traditionally prints as a tribute to the deceased. They are usually available to everyone who attends the deceased's wake or funeral.

Sometimes these cards can be found online and in many cases they are in family possessions. They are also called Prayer Cards, Funeral Cards, Memorial Cards or Holy Cards.

1900 United States Federal Census

The United States Federal Census for the year 1900 is a good place to look for birth date information because this census also provides the month of birth. The other US Census years provide an age or year of birth but not the month of birth.

Assuming there is no index - If you know the month and year of birth you might then be able to find a birth announcement that was printed in a local newspaper at the time of your ancestor's birth. Just browse through a copy of the newspaper for each day of the month online or with a microfilm reader.

US census - 1880. 1900, 1910, 1930

If you are looking for the country of birth of an immigrant to the United States try looking in the US Census. If you can't find the immigrant in the US Census look for his or her children in the US Census.

You can find the father's place of birth and the mother's place of birth in many census years - 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1930.

Historical Newspapers

Think of an event that is part your family history - a birth, high school graduation, college graduation, marriage, death or other event. Then find a local newspaper that was published at the time of the event.

More and more historical newspapers are now indexed by keywords including surnames. So just enter the surname for the year or other date that interests you and search the historical newspaper database.

US Census - 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940

You can find a person's age or year of birth in the US Federal Census in each of these census years - 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940..

See our discussion of the US Federal Census for some additional tips on finding ancestor information.

Cemetery Tombstones

In many cases you can find the birth date of a deceased individual on his or her tombstone at the cemetery where he or she was buried.

You can go directly to the cemetery and transcribe the tombstone information or you can shoot a photo of the tombstone.

You can also try to find the tombstone information online as there are some sites that concentrate on compiling this information. Here is the link to The USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project.

Marriage License Applications

More and more images of Marriage License Applications are now online and they can provide a lot of useful information, including the age and/or date of birth of the bride and groom.

You can find the names of the parents of both the bride and groom and this includes the maiden names of both mothers.

In many cases you can also find the residence address, occupation and place of birth for all 4 parents and the bride and groom.








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