Baptism, banns, marriage, and burial records are the building blocks for every family tree. Our extensive resources will help you to learn more about the most important events in your ancestors’ lives. Prior to civil registration, parish registers kept a record of these events, and these can provide details of the significant milestones in your relatives’ lives.
Early births, marriages, and deaths in the United States were sometimes recorded in register books until the early 1900s, when producing certificates became more common. Every state eventually developed its own laws and established a statewide registration system. These records are called vital records because they record significant events in a person’s life.
U.S. vital records are usually documented by a civil authority, or local municipality, although local churches often provided the earliest instances of birth, marriage and death certificates well before mandatory government registration. For the most part, vital records weren’t kept in the United States until the early 20th century. They include birth certificates, death records, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, naturalization records, adoption records, and land records from every state, territory, and county.
These certificates are accurate sources recorded close to the actual event. As well as parish, county, and state registers, more than 177 million U.S. and Canadian live event records include a list of U.S. veterans’ gravesites; birth, marriage, and death notices; and the Social Security Death Index, which contains over 100 million death records from every state in the United States between the 1930s and the present day.
In Ireland, civil registration of births, marriages and deaths started in 1864 (1845 for non-Catholic marriages). The indexes to civil registration are on Findmypast and in them you can find all the information you need to order a copy certificate from The General Register Office of Ireland. Great details can be found on birth, marriage and death certificates. At the very least, they usually bring you back a generation further on your family tree by featuring parents’ names.
You’ll also find more specific record sets amongst our Irish Life Events. Wills, memorials marriage bonds, baptisms and burials all make excellent resources to consult when discovering your Irish roots.
Parish registers in Britain are handwritten volumes in which details of baptisms, banns, marriages, and burials are recorded. In 1538, following the Church of England’s split with Rome, it was decreed that each parish priest must keep such a register. In 1754, separate marriage and banns registers were introduced in a standard printed portrait format, which remained in use until 1837, when civil registration began. Findmypast has over 400 million parish records, in the categories: births & baptisms, marriages & divorces, deaths & burials, and wills & probate. As well as parish registers, these records include British nationals who lived or served overseas, people who were born or died in workhouses, non-conformist life events, and indexes of wills and probate.
With over 760,000 Australian records spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, Findmypast’s life events records are a crucial stepping stone in your journey into the past.
After New South Wales was established as a penal colony in 1788, convicts were sent to Australia from the British Isles. Assisted immigrants (immigrants who had most of their passage paid by the government), coming chiefly from the British Isles and Germany, first started arriving in New South Wales in 1828, while unassisted immigrants originally came to Australia as early as 1792.
Until 1901, each state of Australia was a separate government or colony. Vital records in a particular state usually begin at the time of the colony's formation, with earlier records (apart from Western Australia) found in New South Wales (the original jurisdictional body for Australia).
Included in these records are births, marriages, and death records from various states and territories, cemeteries, and Anglican parishes. The largest record set is Victoria, which contains over 6 million birth, death, and marriage records.