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How to Record Stillbirths on Your FamilySearch or Ancestry Family Tree

Vintage gravestone with rose for a stillborn child

Many of our female ancestors lost their babies during childbirth or shortly thereafter. How can you document a stillborn child on your family tree?

Utilize Documentation for Stillbirths

Wherever possible, you should use genealogical best practices to record stillbirths on your family tree. The first best practice recommends only adding facts to your family tree if you have a source to support it.

This could be a letter, a gravestone, or a death certificate. The Ohio History Connection has the "Ohio Department of Health Stillborn Death Certificates, 1913-1935, 1942-1953" collection which documents that stillborn children in the named years.

With supporting evidence, you can then add the provided information to your family tree.

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Add a Stillborn Child as You Would Other Children to Your Family Tree

Create a new entry in your online tree as a child of the known parent(s). Then add the following information, if it is known:

  • The child’s name (See below for best practices)

  • Sex

  • Birthdate and place

  • Death date and place

Some programs allow you to tag the birth as "Stillborn". Others have custom facts that you can add to the "Other Details" section.

If you're using Ancestry, you can use a stillborn MyTreeTag on the profile.

If those options are unavailable, add 'stillborn' in a note field for either the birth event or the child's overall profile.

One warning: If the child died shortly after birth, don't use the stillborn tag.

For step-by-step instructions, watch this video.

VIDEO: How to add stillborn children to family trees

How to Record the Name of the Stillborn Child on Your Family Tree

The biggest challenge when adding a stillborn child to your family tree is determining what name to use. I discovered and utilize the following guiding principles when adding a child who died in childbirth to my family tree:

Record the name specified on the family documents.

Some family documents record the stillborn's name as Lizzie, I add Lizzie and not Elizabeth unless another document specifies that name.

If a document does not specify the child's name, then:

  • Leave the given name or first name field blank. Avoid adding "Stillborn," "Infant," "Girl," or any other variation.

  • If the father's name is identified, use the paternal surname for the child's last name.

  • If the father's name is not known but the mother's name is documented, use the maternal surname for the child's last name.

Thank you to our fans for great questions like these. If you have more questions on how to add your relatives to your family tree, send me an email.

Continue Learning About Online Trees

Whether you like Ancestry, FamilySearch, or other online trees, keep your genealogy education going with the following posts:

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