Basic Genealogy Info and Help

Q&A

Where can I find an obituary?

A: Older obituaries can be located by looking in our index and then going through the microfilm for the given date and page/columns. Slightly newer obituaries will be photocopied into books. For anything newer, you can either do a general microfilm search or ask us to search our un-indexed collection!
Keep in mind: death notices or simply an announcement in the newspaper were far more common prior to the turn of the century. Obituaries, as we know them,  didn’t come around until during the Civil War and even then, were only for a select few until the end of the century. 

Where can I find birth and death information?

A: This is a broad search area. Birth and Death certificates weren’t required until 1907, and weren’t issued at all until 1882. Newspapers can provide some information, but as we don’t have an index for every death or birth mentioned in the paper, you would simply have to search through the microfilm for any mention of it, focusing on a known date and several days after.
Another option for death information is funeral home records – we have several books on specific funeral homes, and for all others, we encourage you to (nicely) ask the current funeral home owner if they still have the old records and if you could see them!
Of course, Ancestry.com is a good choice, if you have access to it.
Census information can have birthplace and d.o.b. listed, so you can check those as well.

Where can I find burial information?

A: While we do have multiple books listing off cemetery plots for most (if not all) Miami County cemeteries, there are several websites that make searching much easier and which will normally even provide a picture! Find a Grave is an easy to use website, as is Billion Graves.  Funeral home records sometimes also provide burial information, so you can also check the Funeral Home books we have, or contact the specific funeral home personally and see if they will let you peruse any old records they still have!

Where can I find information about the history of some property?

A: We have plat books from several years that can provide that information, as well as all tax records being public record, which means that you can search an address and see every person who’s owned it in it’s tax history. It’s free to search for tax records and the site can be accessed through the Miami County Government website or HERE. In addition, the local history books, encyclopedias, and similar books may also have some information or even pictures of old properties and buildings.

Another resource option is the website EdAndDebby, by two northern Indiana residents. They provide obituary indexes, paid (but inexpensive) obituary retrieval, access to their obituary indexes for other area counties, and even some cemetery listings that are also searchable!

 

And finally, here is some information provided by the Indiana State Library on vital records research.

From Cradle to Coffin:
Vital Records Research in Indiana
Quick Guide
Genealogy Division, Indiana State Library
http://www.in.gov/library/

Birth and Death Certificates
• Not issued prior to 1882; not mandatory prior to 1907
• Births 1907-1940 and Deaths 1889-2011 available through Ancestry.com/Ancestry Library Edition
(courtesy of the Indiana Archives and Records Administration)
• All birth and death records are kept by the county health department, but not all are publicly available
due to privacy laws
• Locate an Indiana county health department: http://www.in.gov/isdh/24822.htm

Census Records and Mortality Schedules
• Census conducted by the federal government every 10 years beginning in 1790
• Minimal detail recorded prior to the 1850 Census
• The most recent census available to the public is 1940; the 1950 Census will be available in 2022
• Census records are available from many places, including Ancestry.com/Ancestry Library Edition and
Heritage Quest (subscription) and Family Search (free)
• Mortality schedules cover only the census year and are available through the Indiana State Library
Digital Collections

Coroners’ Inquests
• Cover suspicious deaths
• Original records not always available, but abstracts/indexes often at libraries

Social Security
• “Social Security Death Index” and “Social Security Applications and Claims Index” on Ancestry.com/Ancestry Library Edition
• May request original records of deceased individuals from the Social Security Administration

Newspapers
• Announcements: Short, minimal information, most popular prior to 1900
• Vital Records Columns: Brief birth and death information, most common in papers from cities and
larger towns, birth columns still published today
• Obituaries: Not common until after 1900, still published today
• News Articles: Often report on human interest stories or criminal activity

Religious Records
• Records vary by religious group, usually kept locally but may be sent to central repository
• Not obligated to share records

Funeral Home and Cemetery Records
• Business records, not public, not obligated to share
• If funeral home or cemetery is no longer active, records may have been lost/destroyed
• Records usually kept at the funeral home or cemetery office

History Books
• Family and local history
• Available at genealogy libraries and online
• Not official records, often written by the family, may need to fact-check the information

Family Records
• Bible records, diaries, letters, and other information kept by individual families
• May still be in the possession of the family, or may have been donated to local library/genealogical
society/historical society

Resources Cited

Subscription (or check with your local library)
o Ancestry.com/Ancestry Library Edition
o Fold3
o Heritage Quest
o Newspaper Archive
o Newspapers.com

Free
o Internet Archive
o Billion Graves
o Cyndi’s List
o Family Search
o Family Search Family History Books
o Find a Grave
o Google Books
o Hathi Trust
o Indiana State Library Catalog
o Indiana State Library Digital Collections
o Indiana State Library Indiana County Research Guides
o National Archives and Records Administration
o Social Security Administration
o Tombstone birthdate calculator