Finding a birth record for each of our ancestors is tough…sometimes down right impossible. So we turn to alternate records to find something that will give us a calculated birth year, at least. Here are some last ditch options if you still can’t find a record to support a birth date!
Find a Birth Date in Naturalization Papers
Naturalization papers may hold the date of birth of your ancestor. In this example of a Declaration of Intention that took place in 1920, Joe Nimeth records his birth date as 21 September 1886 in Kormend, Hungary. This is a digitized original record, secondary information of birth date and place (because you can’t have first-hand knowledge of your own birth!), and direct evidence of the question of when and where Joe Nimeth was born. [See Elizabeth Shown Mills’ “Evidence Analysis Process Map.”]
You may be thinking, “Of course there’s a birth date on a more recent naturalization, Amie!” But, you might also be surprised to find out that even naturalization in the 1800s may give this type of information.
In the naturalization record of Michael Knoop of Miami County, Ohio, we find a perfect example. Michael was naturalized in 1833 and the hand-written document records the following points:
- Michael Knoop
- Native of Nova Scotia
- Aged 25 years December next (record dated 3 May 1833)
- Was a minor when he came to the United States
- He has been a [U.S.] resident for more than 10 years
Find Birth Information in Applications to the Five Civilized Tribes
You know that pesky, missing 1890 census? It’s a problem. A twenty-year span between federal censuses inhibits most of us the ability to easily determine all the children born to a couple. We also often rely on census records as alternate records of birth.
But because of the almost entire loss of the 1890 U.S. census, many children go completely unfound. For example, what if a child born in 1882 died before the 1900 census came around? Or, if a daughter born in 1881 marries before 1900 and is no longer living with her parents, she may be a bit harder to find.
However, if you have Southeastern United States roots, you might take a look at the Applications to the Five Civilized Tribes. Applications were collected in 1896 and 1898. Part of the application included writing down the members of the applicant’s family, relationships, and ages of those individuals.
In the case below, I didn’t even know Martha Cole existed! She was born about 1877, but the family did not appear in the 1880 U.S. census. She was married in 1897 and never appeared with her family in a U.S. census. Martha only appears as a family member in the Applications to the Five Civilized Tribes.
Using Public Records to Find More Recent Birth Dates
More recent birth records/certificates are difficult to find because of privacy laws. However, you might be surprised to find that many public records also offer a birth date. People who vote, buy property, file a lawsuit, get arrested, or even just pay their water bill, all generate a public records. Sometimes, those public records will give you a specific birth date.
To find public records, you can use Ancestry, FamilySearch, or even Whitepages.com. I have been very successful finding living people’s birth dates by using Whitepages.com. Simply type in the name of the person you are trying to find a birth date for and a place of last known residence. In this example below, I typed in my Aunt’s name and wa-la! I got a birth date for her!
I hope you give some of these ideas a try today and see what you can find! Have some other ideas for our readers? Please leave a comment or suggestion, below!
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