Did you know that some counties (and cities) collected vital records before the state did?
If you were looking for Alabama Vital Records, you’d find that the State began keeping death records in 1908.
However, I found a Death Register for Lawrence County that began in 1882. Looking at the record was revealing:
Look at all the information it contains.
The first page, shown above, records the person’s name, date of death, age, race and occupation. Sometimes they would mark the person white, then cross that out only to replace it with mulatto;)
The second page notes the cause of death, place of death and burial, and the person who reported the death. This register contains deaths through 1895. Some of the notations even name parents.
Now imagine if you had just stopped at the state level vital records; this valuable source would have been missed.
At the end of the book, this record named several doctors that worked in Lawrence County in that timeframe. Another wonderful find was the midwives listed:
So be sure to look for the possible existence of county-level vitals. They may only run for a few years but still, if luck is on your side, perhaps it covers the years some of your ancestors died.
I am an engineer by day, but my true passion lies in genealogy. I have been a researcher, writer, lecturer and teacher for over twenty years. This blog is where I share family history methods, resources, tips and advice, with an emphasis on slave research, slavery and its aftermath. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my family’s past. I’ve taken back– reclaimed– some of that lost memory, especially that of my enslaved ancestors. I hope you’ll sign up to receive my posts—if you do, you’ll get a free PDF with some of my favorite tips! And please do share posts that interest you.