Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Guest Post: Obtaining Vital Records in Your Genealogy Search, by Kaitlin Lackey

This post was written by Kaitlin Lackey, who works with VitalChek - an online vital records service provider.

Obtaining Vital Documents in Your Genealogy Search

Obtaining vital records such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates can be very difficult. First, many people believe they need to travel to the county that issued the document in order to obtain it. This can be very expensive and time-consuming. In addition, there are many legal requirements that must be met to obtain a copy of a vital record.

Who Is Eligible to Get a Vital Record?

It’s important to remember that vital records can be used as legal identification as well as submitted to claim insurance money or other parts of the estate. Therefore, states are very careful about who they allow to obtain vital records for other individuals. In general, you can always order your own records, as well as your direct relatives (parents, spouse, children, aunts, uncles, and nephew/nieces). Some states extend this to grandparents and stepchildren.

In any genealogy search, you of course need to know the state and sometimes the county where the vital record was issued. To find out specific requirements to obtain the record, you can search the court websites for each individual state, or you can use a service like VitalChek.com to find out for free what the documentation and relationship requirements are to obtain the records you need.

How to Get Vital Records

The first question to ask yourself is whether you need the actual vital record, or simply the information from it. If you only need information, a service like DeathIndexes.com or other genealogy record aggregators may be sufficient. However, if you need the actual record, you have two choices – order directly from the county/city/or state, or use a vital record order service.

Traveling to the actual county courthouse or administration building can be a fun part of a genealogical trip if combined with other activities such as researching graveyards and visiting the homes where your ancestors lived. However, even on those trips the courthouse can be intimidating and difficult. You may find yourself paging through stacks of books to find the exact record number you need to request from the clerk. Then, once you present proof of identification, you will have to wait for the clerk to retrieve the requested document and copy it for you, which could take quite some time if they are busy.

A more efficient and economical option can be using a vital record ordering service such as VitalChek. In fact, many government agencies use VitalChek exclusively, making it an excellent resource for vital records. The ordering service will allow you to select what state and agency you need to order from, advise you of the documentation requirements, and allow you to submit the paperwork and order electronically. This can be extremely convenient if your schedule does not allow for travel.

Genealogy is an exciting way to get in touch with you heritage, and often vital documents are needed to provide key pieces of missing information. Ordering vital records doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. Online vital records services make getting the information you need quick and easy. Have fun and happy searching!!  

My thanks to Kaitlin Lackey for offering this post - I accepted it as a guest post because it addressed a common problem that all genealogists face.  I have used VitalChek.com in the past to obtain vital records certificates and have been pleased with their service.  I have received no remuneration for publishing this post.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/09/guest-post-obtaining-vital-records-in.html

No comments: