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.

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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!

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5 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!!!!

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