Records Selection Table
A guide to searching the right records.

THE TABLE BELOW can help you decide which records to search. It is most helpful for post-1800 research. Find your goal in the first column. In the second column, find the types of records that are likely to have the information you need. Additional records that may also be useful are listed in the third column. (The terms used in the second and third columns are the same as the subject headings used in the locality section of the Family History Library Catalog). Records containing previous research (genealogy, biography, history, periodicals and societies) could provide information for nearly all the goals, but these have not been mentioned unless they are especially helpful for a particular goal. Reproduced with permission of the Family History Library.

If You Need Look First In Then Search
Age Census, Vital Records, Cemeteries Military Records, Taxation
Birth date Vital Records, Church Records, Bible Records Cemeteries, Obituaries, Census
Birthplace Vital Records, Church Records, Census Newspapers, Obituaries
City or parish of foreign birth Church Records, Genealogy, Biography, Naturalization and Citizenship Vital Records, Obituaries, History, Emigration and Immigration
Country of foreign birth Emigration and Immigration, Census, Naturalization and Citizenship, Church Records Military Records, Vital Records, Newspapers, Obituaries
County origins and boundaries History, Maps Gazetteers
Death Vital Records, Cemeteries, Probate Records, Church Records, Obituaries Newspapers, Bible Records, Military Records
Divorce Court Records, Vital Records Newspapers
Ethnicity Minorities, Native Races, Societies Church Records, Emigration and Immigration, Naturalization and Citizenship
Historical background History, Periodicals Minorities
Immigration date Emigration and Immigration, Naturalization and Citizenship, Genealogy Census, Newspapers, Biography
Living relatives (and adoptions) Genealogy, Directories, Court Records, Obituaries Census, Biography, Societies, Church Records, Probate Records
Maiden name Vital Records, Church Records, Newspapers, Bible Records Cemeteries, Military Records, Probate Records, Obituaries
Marriage Vital Records, Church Records, Census, Newspapers, Bible Records Cemeteries, Military Records, Probate Records, Naturalization and Citizenship, Land and Property
Occupation Census, Directories, Emigration and Immigration Newspapers, Court Records
Parents, children, and other family members Vital Records, Church Records, Census, Probate Records, Obituaries Bible Records, Newspapers, Emigration and Immigration
Physical description Military Records, Biography Naturalization and Citizenship, Vital Records, Emigration and Immigration, Genealogy
Place-finding aids Gazetteers, Maps History, Periodicals
Place (town) of residence when you know only the state Census, Land and Property, History Biography, Probate Records, History
Places family has lived Census (indexed), Genealogy, Military Records, Vital Records, and other records with a statewide index Military Records, Taxation, Obituaries
Previous research (compiled genealogy) Genealogy, Periodicals, Societies History, Biography
Record-finding aids Archives and Libraries, Societies Periodicals
Religion Church Records, History, Biography Bible Records, Cemeteries, Genealogy
Social activities History, Biography, Newspapers, Societies Town Records, Court Records, Cemeteries, Directories, Obituaries

This article originally appeared in our September/October 1999 issue.

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