A Baker's Dozen of Tips : Finding your Ancestor's Birthplace
Do you have an ancestor whose birthplace seems elusive? Maybe you only have a country that you have found in census records or maybe you have no idea where you should look. You might find the answer by looking at the following records for your ancestor. If you did look before, it’s always a good idea to look again with fresh eyes.
It is a very good idea to look for any siblings in these records too. Perhaps a birthplace is recorded for their name and not for your ancestor!
Records that have something to do with their death seems like a good place to start. Many records are created around death dates. Be wary, however, often the person giving the information did not know your ancestor at birth and is giving what they think it is – especially be careful with records that were created after their death!
1. Death Registration
Some registrations give the place of birth of the deceased on death certificates. Take it with a grain of salt – information was given by their spouse, a child or someone else. This is 2nd hand information – your ancestor was already dead when this was recorded! Most likely the person giving this information was not present at the birth. It is still an excellent clue for where your ancestor was born!
2. Obituaries and Death Notices
These items are usually found in the newspaper – be sure to check all available newspapers for the area your ancestor lived in. Perhaps your answer will be found in a notice about the death of their spouse, siblings, child, or parent.
Death notices are usually short (under 100 words). They are commonly found alongside birth and marriage notices. In some earlier newspapers they are found throughout the paper – wherever they had room to print it!
Obituaries are more biographically extensive articles of news about the death of notable or well-known residents of the area. They can be printed up two months after the death.
3. Monumental Inscriptions
The inscriptions found on gravestones can give you an indication of where your ancestor was born. If you cannot visit the cemetery in person, you can have someone take a photo for you!
Many societies are having photographs published
online. (See our own Grande Prairie & District Branch site for Gravemarkers
of Northwestern Alberta). If you cannot find the picture online, contact the genealogy
group in the area, or GenWeb, or even RAOGK (Random Acts of Genealogical
Kindness). For a small fee you may have the cemetery visited for you and a
picture or pictures taken for you.
4. Probate Records
Have you looked at probate records where your ancestor lived? You might find a probate file or an intestate file. There may be a list of all heirs – including siblings, nieces and nephews or parents “back home”. Search for a record for your ancestor’s siblings and parents as they might have a place named.
Sometimes marriage records may be helpful. Again, check for any marriage of siblings of your ancestor as well.
5. Marriage Registration
Some marriage registrations give the birth place for the bride and groom. If your ancestor’s is not among them, look for their siblings marriage registrations.
6. Marriage Notices
Sometimes marriage notices are published – often as society news, but sometimes as news from the area. Siblings must also be searched for too!
When they first came to this land……..
7. Immigration and Naturalization Records
Your ancestor may have arrived at a time and place where these records were required. Take care to look at many sources for these records: i.e. applications, certifications, and so on. Check for his siblings too! They may have travelled together or may have arrived through different ports at different times.
8. Passenger Lists
Look for your ancestor among the various ships lists. Often you may find them both emigrating from the old country and immigrating to their new home. Both types of lists should be checked – for any siblings as well as for your ancestor.