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Home > Genealogy: Advanced Guides > Birth Information

Birth information can be found in numerous places: church records, vital records, directories, biographies, family Bibles, newspapers, hospital and medical records, death certificates, cemeteries, tombstones, military service records, and censuses just to name a few. This research guide describes church and vital records only. For information about other types of records, see the other genealogy research guides. Some basic questions concerning birth records and the tools needed to answer them are:

What are the best short essays that describe church and public records?

The Source. Social Science and History Department (SSH) 929.1072 So84e.

The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. SSH 929.1072 G859r2.

Pennsylvania Vital Records From the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine and the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 1, introduction. SSH 929.3748 P384v.

When did the maintenance of birth records become required by law in the area of interest?

Ancestry's Red Book. Use for U.S. vital records. Study the sections on vital records for the area of interest. For records of other countries, see a genealogical guide book for the country of interest in the Social Science and History Department. SSH 929.1072 R245b.

Before birth records became legally required in the area of interest, church records and Bible records are usually the best sources of birth information.

What church made a record of the birth or baptism?

Determine where the person lived, then see the lists of churches in local directories, guidebooks, and histories written around the time of interest. Also see denominational and individual church histories. These resources are available through keyword searching on the Free Library online catalog or by making inquiries at the Social Science and History Department reference desk.

Historical Atlas of Religions in America. Education, Philosophy and Religion Department (EPR)/STX 277.3 G238h.

Religion on the American Frontier, 1783-1840: a Collection of Source Materials, 4 vols.EPR/STX Baptists - 286 Sw36b. Congregationalists - 285.8 Sw36c. Methodists - 287.6 Sw36m. Presbyterians - 285.1 Sw36p.

Places of Worship: Exploring their History. EPR/STX 291.6507 W722p. Good bibliography and lists of denominational resources.

Are the church records I need still in existence? If so, where are they?
What is the best way to find early Pennsylvania church records?

Genealogist's Guide to Pennsylvania Records. SSH 929.1072 G286g. Lists the genealogical holdings of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) by Pennsylvania county as of the late 1970s - 1980s.

Clint's Pennsylvania County Series, a series of books that list genealogical resources by Pennsylvania county. For example, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Area Key. SSH 929.3748 C617bu. Similar guides for most nearby Pennsylvania counties are also available.

Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research in Pennsylvania lists genealogical resources by Pennsylvania county. SSH 016.9748 h671g3.

An entire set of books, Pennsylvania Births, provides an outstanding index to births in southeast Pennsylvania. Philadelphia County is SSH 929.3748 H885p; other counties nearby.

Who is the custodian of public birth records for each of the United States, what do they have, and how do I contact them?
Who is the custodian of Philadelphia public birth records and how do I contact them?
Who is the custodian of public birth records for other Pennsylvania counties and how do I contact them?
How can I find adoption records?
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