Birth and death records are two of the most important sources for genealogical data because they are completed at or close to the time when the event occurred by someone who was present at that time.
Birth certificates are usually signed by the midwife or doctor who attended the birth. There are 3 kinds of birth certificates: original, delayed and amended.
Original birth certificates are filed at birth. Delayed birth certificates are issued years after the date of birth for the reason that the original birth certificate was not filed. Amended birth certificates are official records which have been revised because the original record contained errors or insufficient information.
Birth certificates often contain the following information:
o Name of the child
o Name of the parents
Date of birth
o Time of birth
o Place of birth
o Gender of the child
o Mother's name (may include the maiden name)
o Occupation of mother
o Race of mother
o Age of mother
o Place of birth of mother
o Father's name
o Occupation of father
o Race of father
o Age of father
o Place of birth of father
o number of children in the family, excluding the this child
o Attending doctor or midwife
o Witnesses to the birth
While the certificate of birth is a reliable source of genealogical information, a possibility of error cannot be disregarded if the certificate was filed several years after the actual event.
Death records are very important source of genealogical information since it is the most recent record available. It can be a good alternative if birth and marriage records could be not present.
Death records may contain the following information:
Date of death
o Cause of death
o Place of death
o Exact time of death
o Age of death
o Current residence
o Date and place of birth (if known)
o Civil status (married, divorced or single)
o Name of spouse (if married); maiden name of spouse if the deceased is male
o Name of parents
o Place of burial / name of funeral home
o Name of informant (the person who gives the information about the deceased); relationship of the deceased
o Witnesses or officials present at death
Since the information about the deceased is only given by someone who knew the deceased, the accuracy may be questionable or incomplete since the informant may not have the full knowledge about the person.