Monday, June 25, 2007

Michigan Genealogy 101 - Part One - Vital Records

As I promised a few weeks ago, here is the first post on Michigan genealogy! By now everyone has probably figured out that I am from Michigan, and since most of my ancestors settled in Michigan during the Mid-1800s, most of my genealogical research has been done in Michigan.

The state of Michigan began officially recording births, marriages and deaths in 1867, although some of the counties did not begin recording until 1868. You can easily find out when a county started recording vital records through the Library of Michigan's county clerk directory. (To those who already know this and are reading this post, I am sorry for repeating information.) When I read Carol McGinnus' book, I remember (I think) that she mentioned that the law called for recording vital records starting March of 1867. So, if you had an ancestor who was born or died before March 1867, the chances are that you will probably not find a civil record.

Marriages before 1867, on the other hand, may have been record by a county clerk. From what I remember, I think Carol stated in her book that county clerks were required by law, since 1805, to record marriages. Of course, that depends on when the county was formed. I know St. Joseph County has recorded marriages since 1832 primarily because I've done research in that county. Again, the link up above would probably be the best way to find out when a county started recording vital records.

If you go to the Library of Michigan to research, be aware that the Library only has vital records dating from 1867.

In my next post, I'll talk about doing research in the Library of Michigan.