This is one in a series of researching tips taken from presentations by Betty R. Darnell, a noted local historian and genealogist. These notes are copyrighted by her.
Most states began recording births statewide in the early 1900s. Kentucky’s records begin in 1911.
Many counties and cities recorded births, at various time periods during the 1800s. Check reference books for details.
Most Protestant churches did not keep records of birth. Catholic churches have records of baptisms, which sometimes state date of birth. These are not public records; access is determined on an individual basis.
Many states have no statewide index. Kentucky’s statewide index begins in 1978.
Begin with the marriage register. Some counties have marriage records in bound volumes; others have original records in file boxes. Ask the county clerk.
Some Protestant churches may mention marriages in their board minutes. Catholic churches have records of marriages.
In early Kentucky, divorces were granted by an act of legislature. After 1809, divorces could also be granted by circuit courts. After the 1850 constitution, divorces could only be granted by circuit courts. Statewide index begins in 1978.
Most states began recording deaths statewide in the early 1900s. Kentucky’s records begin in 1911.
Many counties and cities recorded deaths, at various time periods during the 1800s. Check reference books for details.
Sometimes a death will be mentioned in board minutes of Protestant churches. Catholic churches have records of deaths and funerals. These are not public records; access is determined on an individual basis.
Check references books or Internet sites for availability of records. Some states are releasing death certificates, on microfilm, after a certain number of years (50 in Kentucky). The microfilm is available at many large libraries. Other records will have to be ordered from the state vital statistics office.
Most original records are at the county courthouse; microfilmed records may be at libraries or archives. Check reference books and Internet sites. Church records – Original records are retained by the individual church. Older records may be available at archives.
Newspapers, family bibles or records, Internet sites