Thursday, November 10, 2005

Millions of West Virginia Genealogy Records Now Available Online

I've been an avid genealogist for a number of years and although I don't do as much as I use I still periodically get into researching my family lines (Coffield, Yoho, Harris, etc.) and sharing information with family.

Today's Charleston newspapers featured an article on a new online genealogy research tool developed by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. It allows you to search birth, death and marriage records all over West Virginia.

The Divisions' press release states:

Vital Research Records online database. The new online database features more than a million West Virginia birth, death and marriage records—a valuable resource for genealogists and historians. According to agency officials, family history researchers can now search and view scanned images of the original birth, death and marriage records from six counties, as well as most statewide death certificates from 1917-54, on the Division’s website at

“We are very pleased to announce this project, which is of great value to anyone researching their family history in West Virginia” said Troy O. Body, WVDCH commissioner. “Early indications from genealogists who have begun using this new online resource are extremely positive. I encourage anyone with roots in West Virginia to take time to check out our website and make a connection with their past.”

Fredrick H. Armstrong, the Division’s director of archives and history, added, “The ability to view digitized photographic images of the actual records rather than just the typed transcriptions is unusual in the online genealogy community. Having access to the actual record images contributes to increased accuracy in family research and we’re proud to move West Virginia into the forefront of this movement.”

Developed in collaboration with FamilySearch Archive, which microfilmed, scanned and indexed the records, the initial phase of the project includes county records for Calhoun, Gilmer, Hardy, Harrison, Mineral and Pendleton counties. The database includes county birth records for the period 1853-1930, county death records for 1853 until the late 1960s, and county marriage records from the creation of the county until the late 1960s, all of which are searchable by name, county and date. Records from additional counties will be added over the next few years. Statewide death certificates will be added annually as the records become 50 years old.

Sure beats the old days of going county to county to look up old records.

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