Now that you have found the West Virginia Division of Culture & History‘s website and their database to search (see Part 1 of my series here) you are ready to investigate your family!
I have put together the following tips, tricks, and advice for searching The State of West Virginia’s The Vital Research Records below. I hope these help you in your search!
When doing your searches, you can use the WILDCARD. What is a wildcard? It is, basically, the asterick (*) symbol. For example, if you are searching William Henry Goodman (Sarah Margaret Goodman Hager’s father) and you are not sure either (1) how to spell William or (2) you are not sure how they spelled his first name years ago, you can enter the following in the first name search box “Wil*” – this will do a search for all individuals who’s name begins with “W-I-L” (William, Wiliam, Wilhelm, Willis, Willie, etc). This is a great tip to know because you can use the “wildcard” for first and last names as well! If you only remember one of these tips, let this be the one! It is amazing how many family members I’ve found using this little piece of advice!
Don’t be intimidated by the dates on the right. If you look to the right of the page (once you select the records you wish to navigate) there is a list of counties and years. These are the counties within the State of West Virginia that have records online. Don’t let this fool you though! I have found many family members with dates on their records different than I had documented. Don’t be intimidated – keep on searching!
A few of the records are transcribed from handwritten documents. Keep in mind that individuals transcribed the handwritten documents into typed documents – this creates a margin of error. If the original document was illegible and couldn’t be read or transcribed correctly this created an inaccurate document. These records are a valuable asset to your search, however, the dates may be a little off.
Search all counties of the State. There are many searches that I have done and was convinced I couldn’t find who I was looking for. The result was I entered the incorrect county – they were located a county over from where I thought. Now I search the entire state and sort through those results. For example, the majority of The Goodman family is in Wayne County, however, some have been found in Boone County. If I would have searched “all counties” then I would have found them quicker.
I will update more tips, tricks, and advice as I go to help you along the way!
I hope these tips help you in your search! Let me know (and who you found information about) – I’d love to hear about your quest.
Take care and keep on searching – there’s always someone to find!