My lineage society says I need a birth, marriage or death certificate. What do I do now?

Whether you hope to join the Daughters of the American Revolution or the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, you’ve probably been asked to provide some birth, marriage or death records or certificates. You don’t have them in the house. How do you proceed?

Here are a few hints to get you started:

  1. You need to start by identifying the exact date and location of the event. Items you already have in the house, such as a family Bible, an obituary, or a death certificate may provide you with more information. If you know the state, check Ancestry, FamilySearch and the archives or library of that state for an index.
  2. Once you have at least an approximate time period and a location, you can begin looking for a record. For pre-1900 records, start by checking FamilySearch. For pre-1950, check the state archives and/or the state health department. Post-1950, the state health department should have copies.
  3. Beware – you may be restricted by processing speed and privacy laws. New York State, for example, generally has a processing time of over a year for state level requests. It’s faster to contact the town where the event occurred (and cheaper than using “rapid” online ordering). If your grandparent’s birth occurred less than 100 years ago in Connecticut, you won’t be able to get a copy unless you are a member of an approved genealogical society. It’s best to be aware of each state’s regulations and best practices.

Questions about a specific state? Want help ordering records? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

Published by Bryna O'Sullivan

Proprietor of Charter Oak Genealogy, Bryna O'Sullivan specializes in assisting clients with lineage society applications and with French to English genealogical translations.

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