Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Got West Virginia Roots?

For those researchers looking for WV records, there is a West Virginia site where you can search for Births, Deaths and Marriages by county. The West Virginia Division of Culture and History site.

Just as on the Famiy Search Record site, the records are indexed and you can view images easily. I prefer this site over Family Search because I can narrow my search by county. For instance, in searching for the surname Chidester on the Family Search site, I narrow down by place (WV), then by record type (vital records) and then by collection (deaths). Even in the narrowed down results I still have 196 hits to view. Sure the counties are listed but the records are not grouped by county so I have to view all of them.

On the WV Culture site, when doing the same search on deaths, I enter the surname Chidester and then select a specific county - this narrows my results dramatically from the Family Search site. I realize it's a good idea to check other close counties in a state when searching for relations, or possibly you may not know what county to start with; but in this case I was looking for a specific person I was relatively sure was in a specific town. You can also select to search by all counties and even choose a specific timeframe.

Most all of the 55 counties in the state are covered, and the years of record availability are listed. Some counties have gaps in the information at this time and there are a few counties that have no records in a specific record type on line at this time. More items are being added as they finish the transcribing and many are being added sometime this year according to the information provided on the website. This site has been one of my favorites to use while researching two families that were in the state from a very early time. State death certificates are available 50 years after the event, births are held for 100 years (with the exception of 6 counties that currently have up to 1930 already on the site). More information on the project can be read here, and you can link directly to the search page here.

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