When you are engaged in a genealogical search, you come across information you never knew existed. Although divorce wasn’t as common with previous generations as it is now, it definitely existed. You can still find old divorce records if you search. To complete a family tree properly, you want a complete history, the good and the bad, enabling you to reflect on the reality of your past.
Erratic Divorce Records from the Past
Before the beginning of the 1900s, few states kept accurate records of any vital statistics. Births, deaths, marriages, and divorces were recorded by clergymen, local courts, judges, or in the family bible. Once states began requiring the submission of certain forms at each of these lifetime events, records improved dramatically.
Unfortunately, with partial and incomplete vital records, it is even more important to have as much information as possible about the couple. If you only know your great-grandfather’s name, your odds of finding a divorce record are much smaller than if you also know the name of the bride. If you can provide the location where they got divorced or the year, you again increase the likelihood of a successful search.
This isn’t to say that you can’t find earlier records; it just means that the search may be more convoluted. In a state where records were erratic, you still may be fortunate enough to find the one you need. If you can’t, but you still know where and when a divorce took place, either from family history or the family bible, you can search local newspaper records to gain validation.
Using an Online Database to Search for Vital Records
There are few things as valuable to a genealogist as a good database. Online you can search not only for old divorce records, but also for birth certificates, marriage licenses, and certificates of death. A treasure trove of family documents are waiting for you.
With the difficulties associated with finding older documents from an age where they just weren’t kept, it can really pay off to use a search service. Quickly find divorce records with a search service. You need only one name and an approximate date. The database will sort through all the likely options and present them to you. You need only narrow your choices down to find the right documentation.