A Little Fancy Footwork
Out of my four grandparents, three of them were born in Italy and one of them was born here in America. Believe it or not, I am having the most difficult time trying to get a copy of the birth certificate belonging to my American-born, paternal grandmother. Why is this? New York has very strict rules and regulations when it comes to obtaining information that discusses the personal aspects of an individual's life. Privacy is a very important matter, so only certain years are available for purchase. Yes, I said purchase. Almost everything comes with a price, and obtaining a document that discusses birth, marriage, or death will cost you. Depending on the state in question, the fee could vary.
When I searched through the Italian records on Ancestry.com and familysearch.org, I was able to locate and print out the birth announcements of my Italian-born grandparents. The only way I will be able to obtain a copy of my American-born, paternal grandmother's birth certificate is if my aunt or one of my uncles (my grandmother's children) fill out the request form for me.
Investigation Leads to a Final Resting Stone:
About two years ago, I was doing a little hunting on my eight great-grandparents. I knew where six of them were buried, but I couldn't find two of them. I interviewed some relatives, but they couldn't recall the location of the cemeteries. I started to focus on one of my great-grandmothers, Giuseppa Maria Rosa (Josephine) since she died first in 1937. She was only 47-years-old when she passed away. I knew that she died in Manhattan, so I started to search the Internet. I was unsuccessful in finding her for weeks. The reason? The medical examiner spelled her name incorrectly on the form. When I did finally hunt her down, I had to travel into Manhattan to obtain the copy of her death certificate.
The report told me where she was buried, so I took it upon myself, when I had a day off from work, to travel out to Queens to St. Michael's Cemetery only to find out that my great-grandmother was buried in an unmarked grave. There was no tombstone to identify where she was or even who she was. The caretaker of the cemetery was kind enough to lead me to where she was buried and all I saw was just a patch of grass. This was a very disappointing and depressing day for me. Obviously, since no one really knew where she was buried, her burial place was not visited for at least 60 years.
After sharing this information with the rest of my extended family, we decided to chip in together and purchase a tombstone for her. It was placed at her grave during the 75th year of her death. Family is probably one of the most important components of one's life. When we all work together, we continue the legacy that began generations ago. I am forever indebted to my family for making this possible.
The State Archives:
To explore what the State Archives in your particular state has to offer, please visit one of the following websites:
If you have a relative who was born, got married, or passed away in one of the above states, try looking them up by clicking on the link. By obtaining your ancestors' documents, you are piecing together an heirloom to pass down to future generations. It is important for all children to know about their ancestors, what events in history their ancestors lived through, and what ailments caused your ancestors to die. This is excellent information to assist you in keeping track of your own medical issues. Perhaps there is a history of something in your family that can be treated with modern technology and/or medicine, if you choose. Happy hunting!