Sunday, November 27, 2005

Free West Virginia Vital Research Records

West Virginia Vital Research Records (FREE)
LDS Church, West Virgina team up for free database
West Virginia Division of Culture and History Web site offers free database to researchers of millions of West Virginia births, deaths and marriages.
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November 26, 2005
The LDS Church's Family and Church History and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History have teamed up to provide another 3.5 million names online.

The records of West Virginian origins or connections were scanned and indexed by the Church department, and hosted online by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. The free database consists of millions of West Virginia births, deaths and marriages — a gold mine for family history researchers and historians.

Now searchable are the scanned images of original birth, death, and marriage records from six counties, as well as most statewide death certificates from 1917-54 at www.wvculture.org/vrr.

The database has more than 3.5 million names linked to 1.4 million original images of birth, marriage, and death records from Calhoun, Gilmer, Hardy, Harrison, Mineral and Pendleton counties. The record dates vary by county and type of record, but typically range from 1816 to 1929. Birth records are for the period 1853-1930, county death records for 1853-1969/1970, and county marriage records from the creation of the county until the late 1960s, all of which are searchable by name, county, and date.

"Birth, marriage, and death records together in a single database are particularly attractive to researchers because multiple generations of ancestors can be found on one document, and you can track their growth and whereabouts over time as noted by births, marriages, and deaths in the family," said Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for the department.

He said that all users have to do is type in an ancestor's name to search the free database. They can also view a high quality, scanned image of the original document. The project required 2,500 volunteers and 64,000 hours to complete. West Virginia plans to add records from additional counties in the future.

The department's collection, known online as FamilySearch.org, is considered the world's largest repository of genealogical resources with vital records from over 110 countries, territories, and possessions and provides free access through FamilySearch.org, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and more than 5,000 family history centers in 70 countries.

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