Monday, March 18, 2013

Tracking down records - It helps to pay attention to detail

I have an account with It is not new and I am really good at navigating their resources. However, I am not so good at paying attention to detail when it comes to outside sources. You would think that trying the same thing over and over again would net me new results. DUH

I am going to Tennessee with my cousin who is also interested in family history. We have our own history. We are one day apart in age and grew up spending a lot of time together as children. As adults, we haven't seen each other in more than 30 years so this will be an interesting reunion on its own. What we have discovered is that we are just older versions as our younger selves so I a really looking forward to this trip.

In preparation for this trip, I am gathering notes on missing data which brings me back to paying attention  I have searched the records for the birth and death records of the Tennessee family. There are none to be found so I thought we might need to go to the Tennessee Archives and search there. I had assumed (you know what that means, right?) that they just had not been filmed or Tennessee had not released them. Again...DUH!

Searching the Tennessee Archives I found this note...

"Births & Deaths Before 1908
There was no official statewide registration of births and deaths in Tennessee before 1908. Four cities did keep some earlier birth and death records, which are available through the Tennessee State Library & Archives."

Sneedville is not among the four cities listed. It is much too small. Martha Jane (McCollum) was born before 1908. So was my grandfather. Knowing that, I actually did some more accurate research (paying attention to detail) and found a birth certificate for my grandfather.

Apparently, Social Security required a birth certificate although there were many who did not have them. In an effort to rectify the problem the State of Tennessee, among others, created programs to add the missing records. 

What I found unbelievable was that my grandfather, born September 15, 1882, did not request his birth certificate until March 19, 1946. He was 64 years old. I didn't find a birth certificate for Martha Jane. I guess it wasn't necessary as she died in 1929 and although I can find a death certificate for another of her sons who died in 1929, there is not a death certificate for her either. 

Going to Tennessee was supposed to help me find these records. Now I believe that they do not exist. Still, there is information to be found so I will continue making notes on other records I am sure I can find. Just going to Tennessee may be enough in itself.

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