Casefile Clues

16 January 2008

The Importance of Location for Vital Records.

My family has lived in Illinois for generations.

Yet my parents were born in Iowa. My grandfather died in Iowa. My great-grandmother died in Iowa. The reasons is simple: the county where I grew up did not have a hospital until the 1950s. The nearest hospital for many was in Keokuk, Iowa, across the Mississippi River.

When researching in a time period when births and deaths typically took place "at home," the location of the nearest hospital is not as much of a concern. However, during that era, the location of the nearest hospital is important as the death or birth record will be filed there, not where the person was living.

Regardless of the time period, it is always important to remember that birth and death records are filed where they took place. If Grandma moved during the last six months of her life to live with her daughter that's where it will be recorded.

And that's also why later sources providing secondary information may be incorrect.

Just something to think about.