The following announcement was written by Ancestry.com:
Ancestry.com Adds More Than 50 Million New Birth, Marriage and Death Records Expanding the Largest Searchable U.S. Vital Records Collection to nearly a Half Billion
New Collections from 23 States include records on famous Americans like John Wayne, Clark Gable and Ernest Hemingway
PROVO, UTAH – (October 27, 2011) – Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced it has added 53 new historical vital record collections to its nearly half billion U.S. vital records, the largest searchable online collection of its kind. The foundation of family history research, civil vital records – recordings of births, marriages and deaths – were typically created at or near the time of the event and serve as an essential resource for the millions of Americans who are beginning or continuing their family history research. The new additions encompass 23 states, include more than 50 million historical records dating from the 1600s (some of the oldest U.S. records available) through to 2010 and have been made available through partnerships with state and local archives, county offices and newspapers. Many notable Americans can be found in the collections, including John Wayne, Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland and many more.
Interesting facts presented by these records include John Wayne’s birth name as Marion Robert Morrison, changed to the legendary stage name when he began working in Hollywood. “Gone with the Wind” star Clark Gable hailed from the small village of Cadiz, Ohio according to the Ohio Births and Christening Index (1800-1962). The Minnesota Birth and Christening Records (1840-1980) show that “The Wizard of Oz” star Judy Garland’s given birth name was Frances Gumm.
These new vital record collections are available to all current Ancestry.com subscribers and can be found at www.ancestry.com/vitals. As always, Ancestry.com is free of charge for 14 days to all new users.
Vital records contain a wide variety of valuable information. Birth records can include information about baptisms and christenings, as well as birth certificates and registers. Marriage records tend to be the oldest vital records and can include consent affidavits - typically for individuals under legal age, declarations of intent, banns, bonds, contracts, licenses, certificates, registers and returns. Death records may include death certificates, burial records, cemetery records, and other documents such as probate records, court minutes, and coroner's records.
Traditionally, vital records in the U.S. have been created and maintained locally by multiple entities—churches, town clerks, justices of the peace and others. With no single source for information, research has previously been time intensive, requiring countless hours and travel to make and confirm discoveries.
With the digitization of millions of these valuable records, Ancestry.com has simplified the process to a click of a mouse and keyboard. Interest and curiosity in family history research is growing rapidly, evidenced by a recent Harris Interactive survey that revealed four in five Americans are interested in learning about their family history and three out of four claiming that knowing their family history is important to them.
“Vital records are among the most valuable genealogical resources for proving or disproving other sources, giving a more complete picture of ancestors, helping distinguish between different people with the same names and finding clues about earlier life events,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, whose office oversees the Tennessee State Library and Archives. “By compiling such a massive collection, spanning not only different locales, but centuries of essential information, Ancestry.com is making it possible for anyone to learn more about family history.”
Some of the new vital record collections now available on Ancestry.com date well back into the 17th Century including:
“The United States possesses a unique history and vital records offer an accurate, in-depth look into the lives of individuals, families and the nation as a whole,” said Josh Hanna, Executive Vice President, Ancestry.com. “Ancestry.com is committed to the continued expansion of our vital record collections and increasing the breadth of information for all Americans looking to learn more about their past.”
- Connecticut, Deaths and Burials, 1650-1934: Town clerks began recording births, marriages and deaths by 1650. These records are derived from microfilmed records of deaths and burials. This collection includes legendary names such as P.T. Barnum of circus fame and dictionary pioneer Noah Webster.
- Maryland, Births and Christenings, 1662–1911: This collection is extracted from more than 200,000 Maryland birth, baptism, and christening records sourced from church, civil and family records. This collection includes the birth of John Hanson, President of early America’s Continental Congress.
- New Hampshire, Death and Burial Records, 1654–1949: New Hampshire’s earliest records were in the mid-1600s, though laws requiring a statewide compilation of records were not passed until 1866.
- New Hampshire, Marriage Records, 1637–1947: Records in this collection are derived from certificates of intention of marriage and certificates of marriage for more recent years.
- New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660–1931: This collection is comprised of more than 2.3 million birth, baptism, and christening records. Information found here may include name, gender, race and birthplace.
 This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery omnibus product on behalf of Ancestry.com from August 5-9, 2011 among 2,950 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.