How to Find Your Grandfather’s Birth Records Online

Every day we receive questions from our members regarding their family history searches. We are here to help!

Here’s a genealogy question we just received.

GenealogyBank Member Question:

My grandfather Hugh Cornwell was born in Prairie Grove, AR, 4/6/1883. I have been searching for a birth record for the past 20 years with no luck. Any suggestions?

“Ask the Genealogist” Response:

Arkansas vital records do not begin until 1914.

So, while you can possibly obtain a church baptismal certificate, you won’t be able to find a government birth certificate for your grandfather.

I found your grandfather’s California death certificate, which does give his date of birth along with the family surnames of his father and mother. His death certificate is available online on the FamilySearch website at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VPW3-9Q3.

There is another record for your grandfather in the 1900 census, which also states that he was born in April 1883. His census record is available on FamilySearch.org at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M9PK-R7K.

Here is a third document with genealogical information about your grandfather: his World War II draft registration card, also showing that he was born on April 6, 1883. You can view your grandfather’s military record at https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V48Y-54Q.

So, while you cannot get a formal birth certificate—here are three U.S. government documents, created over the past 112 years, that give his date of birth. That should be the evidence you are looking for.

Let’s see how we can help you make progress in your own family history research.

All the best in your genealogy research.

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom Kemp is an internationally known librarian and archivist – he is the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history.

He previously served as the Chair of the National Council of Library & Information Associations (Washington, DC) and as Library Director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

An active genealogist, he has been working on his own family history for 47 years. With the rapidly growing online archives at GenealogyBank – it is a great day for genealogy!

Print Friendly

17 thoughts on “How to Find Your Grandfather’s Birth Records Online

  1. Could you find out any birth certificates for a Desmond Leonard Doonan born 1924/27/07 please would really be apreciated as I can’t find no birth records of my Grand father in South Africa

  2. Looking for any information on my grandfather. His name is Samuel Lee Cornwell and he lived in Illinois in the late 1960’s. His sons name is John Michael Cornwell born May 28th 1968.

  3. my grandfather name is ishmale louis brown born 1887 i was told he came from oklahoma but not sure. he met my grandmother dorothy gaudet in vaserie la i was told

  4. I’ve been trying to find out information on my grandpa, but my grandma and my dad are already dead. My grandpa’s name is George William Bellamy (I got that from my dad’s birth certificate).

    He was also born in Arkansas in approximately 1909 since he’s listed as 40 years of age when my dad (David E Bellamy) was born so from your response above, there won’t be an archived birth certificate I can get to even if I figure out his birth date. My dad’s birth cert says he was a Trimmer and was in the automobile industry… and that’s all I have. I need a birthday so i can hopefully get some information on who his parents were…

    i know he married my grandma (hazel louise yauchzee– that’s her maiden name) somewhere between 1943 and 1949… (he was her second husband– her first married last name was Kelley) and passed away between 1949-1956 because in 1956 she was re-married to her third and last husband.

    Any help would be amazing!!!!

  5. Lbuired stellawood grave no 67 block aa ooking for i d birth/cert anything Date of death 27/9/1962 buired 29/9/1962 Name Dias Marcelino De Souza age 72 4387 so he was born in 1890 please help My Dad was Vincente J De Souza Dias .died in Cape Town.

  6. I am seeking the date of my grandfather’s death. His name was John L. Gray and died in Missoula, Montana. Can you help?

  7. My grandfather, William Gordon Bugie born November 23 1916, never talked much about his childhood. I recently have been trying to piece together my family tree and I cannot seem to find who his parents are. I have found one census document that simply put father’s surname: Bugie and mother’s surname: Cunningham. I cannot find first names. Could you possibly locate his parents names? This would be so incredibly helpful! Thank you!

  8. Can I obtain a Death Certificate for my Grandfather, and would it have his parents information? His name was Max Laske, he passed in July 1966 in the Bronx. I looked in Familysearch.org and Ancestry only able to get SS death index.

  9. I am trying to find out how and when my grandfather passed away. He was in my mother’s life when she was bon in 1939 and showing until 1940 (maybe 1942), his name is Robert Edward Taylor (b approx. 1910), he married Genevieve Edna Meyer (b. aug 1915) and they lived around Port Jervis Ny and the Matamoras PN area (Middletown, Hancock, Greenville). A purple heart was received, I don’t know if he was wounded or died. My mother had a brother and two sisters, two were from another marriage, the other I believe was from Robert. I never knew anything about my grandfather and not sure my mother who is now deceased did either. Somewhere around 1943 my grandmother remarried a James Hooey. Since divorce wasn’t common back then, it makes me think something bad happened. Any help would be greatly appreciated. His ethnicity is white. Thank you

  10. Hi Kathee,

    On Genealogybank I would suggest starting out with several exact phrase searches using variations of the name. You would do this by putting the full name in the Include Keywords field inside of quotation marks. Examples: “Robert Edward Taylor”, “Robert Taylor”, “Robert E Taylor”, “R E Taylor”, etc…

    You can also do variations of broader searches by putting Taylor in the last name field and Genevieve or Edna or Purple Heart in the keywords.

    As for more information on the Purple Heart – you can search GenealogyBank for variations of keywords “Purple Heart” without anything in the name fields and date range 1940 to 1945. I would also suggest doing some digging through internet searches such as Google. Maybe search variations like “Robert E Taylor receives Purple Heart” or “Robert E Taylor Purple Heart recipient” or “Purple Heart recipients 1940-1945″.

    I hope this helps. Best of luck in your search!

  11. Hi Claudia,

    When I run a search for “Ernest Abrahams” in the GenealogyBank newspaper archives, I get back 7 results spanning from 1880-1929. A search for “Arthur Marvin” with a year range of 1872-1972 returns 324 results. With a little more information you can begin to narrow those results down by including keywords, adjusting the year ranges, trying different locations, etc… If their deaths occurred after 1936 and they had a social security number you may want to start by searching the Social Security Death index for morsels of helpful information as well.

    Remember to always search for variations of your ancestors names. So Arthur can be searched as “A K Marvin”, “Arthur K Marvin”, “Arthur Kater Marvin”, “Arthur Marvin”, or “Art Marvin”.

    I hope this helps. Good luck in your search!

  12. I have been trying to find my grandmothers birth certificate Ann Marie De-RIsi, Maiden name Russo (Italian). My dad was born in Trenton NJ, and my grand father was Frank C. De-Risi.

    • Hi Carly,

      GenealogyBank houses birth notices/records that were placed in U.S. published newspapers. When searching for birth notices in newspapers remember to search by the parents’ names or by last name and include keywords such as ‘birth’ OR ‘born’ OR ‘baby’, as the child’s name may not have been published.

      GenealogyBank does have both Ann Marie DeRisi (2008) and Frank C. DeRisi’s (1995) obituaries in Indiana. The Geisen Funeral Home in Crown Point, IN handled both of their funerals. I would suggest contacting the funeral home to see what further information can be gathered. Many times funeral homes will have pieces of information concerning individuals and their families in their records that are not published elsewhere.

      U.S. birth certificates are handled at the state and county levels. The official years that states began collecting vital records will vary state to state.

      I believe that both Ann Marie and Frank DeRisi were born in Italy. To obtain their birth records I would suggest searching sites that have Italian birth records. cyndislist.com is a good resource to find genealogy sites that house all different kinds of records including Italian birth records.

      I hope this helps and wish you the best of luck in your research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>