Tuesday, March 20, 2007

California Vital Records searches

I mentioned yesterday I was going to try to find birth, marriage and death records for my Crouch cousins who resided in Long Beach.

California has a significant collection of vital records available online. For instance:

1) BIRTHS - 1905 to 1995 are available on:

a) www.ancestry.com. You can search on first name, last name, county, mother's maiden name, birth day, month, year, or any combination thereof.

b) The same database is available at http://www.vitalsearch-ca.com/gen/ca/_vitals/cabirthm.htm if you are a Premium Member. For those that aren't Premium members, you have to use a Guest Pass (give them an email address and they will email one to you). You can search by last name only (four letters maximum, with % as a wild card) The results are in first name alphabetical order and you can page through the entries (30 to a page). This works OK for uncommon surnames, but is nearly impossible for common surnames. You cannot skip ahead to a certain given name - you have to go one page at a time. As an example, I can find Crouch entries by entering Crou% and get 3,103 results, many of them Crouch.

2) MARRIAGES - 1949 to 1986. Online marriage records are at the http://www.vitalsearch-ca.com/gen/ca/_vitals/camarrin.htm site. With a Premium membership you can search both of the bride and groom marriage lists. Without a membership, you can access the Bride marriage list for 1986 only. Until recently, any searcher could enter the marriage index for 1949 to 1959 and 1960 to 1985. The 1949 to 1959, and 1986, records are scanned lists from microfiche, and the 1960 to 1985 records are in an SQL database. The microfiche for 1960 to 1986 are available at many Family History Centers in California.

3) DEATHS - 1905 to 2000. There are several online portals for death indexes:

a) www.ancestry.com has Deaths for 1940 to 1997 in their offerings. You can input first name, last name, county, mother's maiden name, father's surname, death day, month, year, and birth day, month, year, etc.

b) http://vitals.rootsweb.com/ca/death/search.cgi (free access) has Deaths for 1940 to 1997 - similar to Ancestry.com, but with more listings for some reason (as discussed here earlier). You can input birth place (state or OTHER) and death place (County), but can input only a birth year or death year.

c) http://www.vitalsearch-ca.com/gen/ca/_vitals/cadeathm.htm has death indexes from 1905 to 2000. Unless you are a Premium Member, you will have to use a guest pass, but using the system is not onerous (like births) or restrictive (like marriages). There are three databases here: 1905 to 1929 in scanned images, 1930 to 1939 in scanned images, and 1940 to 2000 in an SQL database. You have to scroll through the scanned images, but can input last, first and middle names, birth day, month, year, death day, month, year, county of death, birthplace (state), mother's last name, father's last name, SSN, age, etc.

There are other sources for California births, marriages and deaths, but they are not comprehensive. See the lists at http://www.genealogybranches.com/california.html for births and marriages, and http://www.deathindexes.com/california/ for deaths.

If you know of additional resources, please let me know!

For my Crouch people, I found only the birth of Betty W. Crouch on 21 November 1920 in Los Angeles county (mother's maiden name Clusholm - a misspelled Chisholm). I couldn't access the Marriage records.

In the Death records, I found the following:

a) Samuel Crouch died 18 May 1931, Los Angeles county, age 90.
b) Elizabeth B. Crouch died 10 May 1931, Los Angeles county, age 81.
c) William S. Crouch died 15 Dec 1940, Los Angeles county, born 25 Nov 1874 in MO.
d) Elizabeth Crouch died 11 Oct 1951, Los Angeles County, born 23 Jan 1871 in IA, father's name Riley, mother's name Wardle.
e) Vivian Meigs died 26 Dec 1992 in Los Angeles county, born 18 Jul 1899 in IL, father's name Crouch, mother's name Riley, SSN 558-70-1514.
f) Evangeline Crouch not found in CA Death Index
g) Louis Crouch not found in CA Death Index
h) Ruth Adeline Crouch died 17 Mar 1989 in El Dorado County, born 2 Nov 1894 in MO, father's name Chisholm, mother's name Rounds, SSN 56y4-24-6542.
i) Marion Lee Davisson died 9 May 1993 in Tulare County, born 3 May 1915 in MO, father's name Crouch, mother's name Chisholm, SSN 564-10-9974.
j) Betty Crouch not in CA Death Index
k) Myrtle E. Milbank died 23 Nov 1963 in Los Angeles County, born 14 Nov 1872 in MO, mother's name Voux, SSN 549-66-9210.
l) Benjamin R. Milbank, died 21 Oct 1947 in Los Angeles county, born 15 Sep 1876 in IL, father's name Milbank, mother's name Yandell, no SSN

Not a bad haul for about 20 minutes of work! I added all of the data to my master database last night.

Apparently, up to five people can use a Vitalsearch membership. If a group of people have many lookups to perform in California vital records, it may be wise to pool resources and obtain a joint membership.

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