Genealogy Records definition

Genealogy and family research can be an exciting way to learn about your family history and the events in your ancestors’ life. They can help you build your family tree, learn more about your roots and identity and in some cases, can even provide useful information to take better care of your health.

Genealogy and family records are crucial documents for all genealogy researchers who need to find out who you are realated to. Learning what they are and how to consult them is very important for successful research.

What Are Genealogy Records?

Genealogical records are documents of different nature that can provide information on individuals and families.

Information found in genealogy records may include the following:

  • Basic and vital information such as full names, genders, births, deaths, marriages relationships
  • Life events such as military service, property purchases and sales, taxes, changes of residence and immigration information
  • Personal characteristics such as physical appearance, religious and spiritual beliefs and philosophy of life, and social and economic status

As you can see, there is a lot you can learn about your ancestry from genealogical records.

Genealogy records can be divided into 2 categories: compiled and original records.

Compiled records

Compiled records are sets of information about a certain individual, group, or family. The information is gathered from original records and other compiled records. A published family history, for example, is considered a compiled genealogical record.

Please note that compiled records are considered secondary information and inaccuracies may occur.

Compiled records are an extremely useful starting point for a genealogical research since they tell us what other researchers have already learned about the individual, group, or family we are looking into.

They can inform us of family links that are not otherwise easily discernible in vital records. Thanks to compiled records, we also learn who other researchers are and can coordinate our efforts and share knowledge.

Original records

Original records contain specific information regarding a person’s life. They are usually compiled near the time the life event took place and are often in the form of certificates and other official documents. For this reason, they can be used to verify the accuracy of compiled records.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples of original records:

  • Birth certificates (certified and non-genealogical copies)
  • Marriage and divorce certificates
  • Records of christenings
  • Death and burial certificates
  • Proof of residency
  • Property records
  • Employment records
  • Military records
  • Proof of citizenship/naturalization and travel documents showing departures and arrivals in a country
  • Court records and court orders
  • School, university, church, prison, and other institution records
  • Personal records

Where Can I Find Genealogy Records?

There are countless digital and physical places where you can conduct genealogy research.

For official vital records, you can search at:

  • State archives
  • Local libraries
  • County registrars
  • Vital records offices

For compiled records as well as non-genealogical vital records, you can search libraries and online databases. Specific institutions such as schools and universities may be able to assist you too.

Please note that access to recent vital records such as birth certificates may be restricted to the public.