How civil records can help your family research
Civil records can be one of the best resources to help you build your family tree and link one generation of your family to the next.
These records provide you with information about your ancestors, such as date of birth, death and marriage. They may also include parents names, occupations, and more.
Government offices create civil records (also known as vital records) to document vital information about their citizens, and in most countries, it is a legal requirement to register these events. The most essential and standard records include birth, marriage and death but may also include divorce, change of name, foetal death adoption records and more.
Civil registration gives people a legal name and identity within society, allowing them access to government services. Civil registration can be used to establish evidence, for example, rights to an inheritance. Vital documents of citizens also enable government departments to track vital statistics, including population count and causes of deaths through birth and death registrations.
The level of government that is responsible for civil registrations differs depending on the country and the era. You may need to hunt for these registrations at an office that holds vital records in your country or area. These records may be maintained within your country either centrally, federally, by the local state, provincial, territorial, county, or within your city.
You can search for birth, death, marriage records on websites such as FamilySearch, Ancestry and FindMyPast. Alternatively, you can also find the office that holds vital documents in your country, state or territory.
To find a civil record, you will first need to know an approximate year and area where the birth, marriage, death, or another vital record would have occurred.
Websites where you may find vital records for your ancestors:
New Zealand Resources:
England & Wales Resources:
To help you record your documents, including your civil records for each ancestor, I have put together this FREE ancestor profile scribble sheet.
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