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* Finding the minimum amount of information for vital records

To find an individual's ethnicity on a vital record, such as a death, divorce, or marriage certificate, you must at least know the individual's full name at the time of the event, the approximate year of the event, and the state or county of the event, depending on when the event took place. If you do not have the minimum information to find a vital record, you can either:

* Get help finding some of the minimum information by selecting one of the following items,

Name

Marriage date

Marriage place

Death date

Place of death

* click the Back button on your browser to return to the list of other places where you can find an individual's ethnicity, or

* read the paragraphs below for a few additional tips.

Finding vital records

Even if you don't have the minimum information required to find the original records, you're not completely out of luck. Indexes to vital records have been made for some states and counties. These indexes provide you with the information you need to access the original record. Check with libraries and genealogy societies in the area -- they may know if any indexes exist for the records that you need.

Genealogy.com, Inc. also has Family Archives containing marriage records. The FamilyFinder Index, a feature of Family Tree Maker software and also available for searching at FamilyTreeMaker.com, is an index of over 220 million names from census records, marriage records, Social Security death records, actual family trees, and more. This feature can help you by telling you if your ancestor's name is actually listed on one of the marriage CDs Genealogy.com sells. Using the FamilyFinder Index couldn't be easier -- all you need to do is enter the names of your ancestors right into your own computer. If the FamilyFinder Index tells you that your ancestors are listed, then it's simple to locate your ancestor's record. For more information about FamilyFinder, or for information about purchasing CD-ROM indexes, see the topic All about FamilyFinder.

Finding ethnic background

You can also check for your surname in surname dictionaries, which are available at most libraries. Surname dictionaries normally give information about the ethnic background associated with a surname. However, if your family's surname has changed over time, you may not find the current version in the dictionary, or the dictionary may be misleading. Other family members may have ideas about your ethnic makeup, too, so try asking around. While information gleaned from dictionaries and family members is valuable, it's probably a good idea to use other records to verify what you've learned.

Previous research about your family is another good source for information about your ethnic background. For help with finding previous research, see the topic Previous research. Make sure to check photo albums, scrapbooks, diaries, and family Bibles at home. See the topic Finding information at home for more information.

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