Thursday, July 29, 2010

CVGS Program Summary - "Vital Records" by Susi Pentico

CVGS member Susi Pentico presented "Vital Records - and where you may find them" at the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (CVGS) program meeting on Wednesday, 28 July at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library Auditorium. Susi's presentation description and curriculum vitae is listed here.

In this talk, she defined a "vital record" as a document that attests to a person's major life event. The documents could be:

* birth, marriage or death certificates issued and maintained by civil authorities
* church baptism, marriage and burial records created and maintained by a local or national church
* Bible pages, papers, letters, photos, albums and scrapbooks held by a family
* cemetery records at the cemetery office or on a gravestone
* newspaper articles that mention a major life event, including obituaries which often provide a life summary and family members
* military pension files, including applications from widows and children, may provide birth, marriage and death information
* probate records and land records held by civil authorities
* published books and periodical articles with biographical data

Susi said that vital records can be found almost anywhere you look for them.

In 1833, it was reported that vital records were being recorded by 10% of the world's countries, and 6% of the United States. By 1880, only 14 US states were recording them.

The availability of "official" vital records in each US state can be found in Val D. Greenwood's book, The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. She mentioned that many local, state, regional and national libraries and archives have vital records in index, book or manuscript format. Early marriages for many states were compiled by Jordan R. Dodd of Liahona Research and are available at libraries.

Susi's handout listed some vital records collections for many eastern states, and where they might be accessed (generally, in the state itself or in a major genealogical library). She noted that some vital records could be found at (she probably meant, but she did not list any online data portals or websites that have vital records information in index, transcript, microfilm or image format.

Before Susi's presentation, the 2009 CVGS scholarship winner, Amy Hocza of Chula Vista High School, and now a sophomore at UCLA, was introduced, thanked the society for her award, and described her freshman year at college. She is a neuro-sciences major hoping to be a medical doctor.

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