1. Parenting
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How Do I Find Parent's Names?

What You Need:
Related Resources
Cemetery Records
Census Records
Family Sources
Land Records
Military Records
Obituaries
Probate Records
Vital Records

Elsewhere on the Web
Missing Fathers

Full Name
Before searching for an ancestor's parents you will need to know their full name (including maiden name for your female ancestors). Without this information you will find it very difficult to locate records and, even if you locate them, you will find it almost impossible to verify that it is indeed your ancestor.

Location
To find a record which lists an ancestor's parents, you will need to know where your ancestor was living at the time the record was created. For example, to find parent's names on a marriage record you will have to know where your ancestor was married.

Where to Look:

The following records are all good places to look for the names of your ancestor's parents. Please keep in mind that the availability of these records will vary by time period and country/region. They are listed in descending order of importance.

Vital Records
A birth record is the best place to look for the names of an individual's parents. You may also be able to find the names of both parents on a marriage record or death certificate. Keep in mind that death certificates are often not a very accurate source for parent's names so verify with an additional source.

Church Records
Baptism, christening, marriage and death records

Census Records
Census records which list all members of a household make it easy to find the parents for an individual. The one drawback is that many census records do not have an every name index so you will have to have a pretty good idea of the location where the family was living and then do a search of all families with that surname. Keep in mind that availability and usefulness of census records varies widely by country and time period.

Newspaper Notices
Wedding announcements, birth announcements, obituaries...

Family Sources
Bible records, letters, diaries, wedding announcements, birth announcements, citizenship papers, interviews...

Cemetery Records
Families are often buried together in family cemeteries or in adjoining plots in larger cemeteries.

Land Records
Deeds, homestead applications, mortgages and other property records may provide clues as to a person's parents. Examples include deeds where land was sold to your ancestor for a token sum or land which was transferred to your ancestor in an estate settlement.

Probate Records
Wills and estate records will often list children among the heirs.


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