Friday, May 06, 2005

Copies of Vital Records

From: Mark
This might be a dumb question, but when obtaining vital records from the courthouse, do we ideally prefer certified copies of the original document, or is a "modern" copy sufficient?

Both “certified” and “regular” copies of a birth, marriage or death records are prepared by a clerk who fills out a form and signs it before giving it to you for your genealogical record book. The more expensive “certified” one also bears a seal that stipulates for a court of law that what has been entered on the form by the clerk is the same as what appears in the record book. Even so, the clerk is only human and may make an error when interpreting the old handwriting of the original record.

The BEST solution is to obtain a photocopy from the record book itself.

Often the official vital record books are too large, and are not available for photocopying, so you may have to settle for copy you can afford. Hopefully, you will find the records have been microfilmed for preservation purposes. In that case be sure to photocopy the page with you ancestor’s entry AND the title page of the record book, which states volume and or series number for source citation.

The microfilm may be available at the courthouse in question. It also may be available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and through the 4,000+ local branches known as Family History Centers. Locate the vital records on microfilm by searching the FHL Catalog online at :

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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