top of page

Tips from the Registrar General

For those of you who are working on your application to ADEAW, you can find original court records and other information about the Salem Witch Trials at
You can use court records as "Proof of accusation, conviction, etc." on the first page of your application. Include the source citation (for example, Essex County Court Archives, Salem Witchcraft. vol.1, no. 309). 
You must provide proof (vital record, census, Bible record, obituary, tombstone picture, etc.) for each stated date and place of birth, marriage, and death.  If you only have proof of a year for the event, only use that.  If you only have the county or the state for an event, only use that. 
When using Find A Grave photo as your proof, please include the Memorial # and the name and location of the cemetery.  If there is no legible photo, these Memorials are not acceptable proof, unless citations are provided for the information.  For example, transcription of headstone information or burial record from church or cemetery.  
For the place of birth, marriage, or death include the information as shown in the proof document.  If only the county and state are on the record only include that information.  If only the month or year is given only include that information.  If different records have conflicting information, use the information from the official (church, government) record closest to the date of the event.  
If the document, Bible record, headstone image, etc. that you are sending as proof is difficult to read please provide a transcript of the pertinent information and / or an enlargement. I am competent at deciphering 17th and 18th century writing, but do not have Superman's X-ray vision powers!
Only use a family genealogy or town history when a vital record, church record, probate record, headstone image, etc. is not available. Whenever possible use a primary source. 
“A primary source is any record created during the time you are researching - an eyewitness account. Primary sources can take many forms, such as newspapers, letters, journals, tax lists, court documents, church records, or a census. Even published books can be considered primary sources if they were printed during the time of your study.”
Remember to underline in red all pertinent genealogical information, also, write the Generation # on each proof document. This helps to speed up the review process and ensure the reviewer does not miss a key date, place, or name.
It is often difficult to read a record for many reasons (e.g., 18th century handwriting, documents in poor conditions), make sure that the dates, places, and/or names are correct.  If the dates or places do not make sense within the context of the rest of the proof, then verify the information with another record or by looking at the entire document.  For example, in an application a 3 was written rather than the correct 8 for a year.  Upon closer examination the date in the entry before and after the entry made it clear the last number was an 8.  The woman would have been under 13 at the time of her marriage and given the timeframe that was unlikely. 
If you have a member of your family who is already a member, you may use her application as your proof for common generations.  You should state ADEAW # and then the appropriate member number.  The date should match the original application with any corrections made by the Register General.  The application must be completed for every generation.  
The best way to get started in documenting your lineage is to start with what you know.  Whether with a piece of paper or on the computer start with Generation 1 - YOU.  Put in your full name, date of birth and place of birth.  This information should match your Birth Certificate (BC).  Put a copy of your BC in a folder or scan and place in an on-line folder.  If you are married add the information about your marriage date and place from your Marriage Certificate or Marriage License.  Include your Husband’s BC and if deceased his Death Certificate (DC).  If divorced include sufficient paperwork to document your current surname.  
Next, go to Generation 2.  Start with your Father’s information and then your Mother’s information.  Father’s come first as you share a surname.  Include BC, MC, and DC as appropriate.  Keep doing this for each generation till you get to the accused witch ancestor. 
Remember the most important thing is to prove your lineage from generation to generation.  The “proof” is found in one of these vital records or other acceptable documentation.  


bottom of page