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Source Material

When I say source material, I mean material that can be authenticated by a record-keeping entity—usually the government, but sometimes a church in the case of some marriage certificates. Source material includes birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, census data, and military service records.

You can usually find birth and death certificate information, or at least pointers to information. The marriage certificates, census data, and military service records are more iffy and vary by state. Some data is not available online simply because it isn't yet available publicly; census records as well as birth and death records are not released to the public until several decades after they're established. So unless you're reading this in the 2020s, don't think you're going to go online and find the 1950 census.


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