My ancestor was born in the early 1800s. How can I find his parents?


Because civil birth records were not issued in Indiana until 1882, there is often no record of parents’ names for individuals born in the early 1800s.  However, there are several places to look that may contain the parents’ information.  For example, census records from 1850 on recorded the names of everyone in a given household, so if a person lived with his or her parents into adulthood or if parents moved in with their adult children later in life, that information will be in the census.  Marriage records from the late 1800s and early 1900s often asked for parents’ names.  Death certificates were issued in Indiana beginning in 1882 (although they were optional until 1907), so parents’ names may be listed there.  An obituary may also name parents, although obituaries were not common until the early 1900s.

Family histories may name parents, so you may want to search our catalog to see if we have any books on that family.  Many county histories contained brief biographical sketches of local residents.  The Indiana State Library has a large collection of Indiana county histories, and many of these books are also available on Google Books.  If you know the religious affiliation of your ancestor, you may be able to find information in church records, particularly christening and membership records.

If you can prove that your ancestor had brothers or sisters, finding the parentage of those individuals will also give you the parents’ information for your ancestor.


  • Last Updated Sep 24, 2021
  • Views 20
  • Answered By Stephanie Asberry

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