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Unique Wayland Vital Records Available from Digital Commonwealth

Most people overlook Digital Commonwealth, a Massachusetts-specific historical records site, in favor of the large genealogy sites such as FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com and AmericanAncestors.org. But Digital Commonwealth has a lot to offer and it’s free.

Digital Commonwealth has three vital record collections specific to Wayland, Massachusetts.

These collections are made available on Digital Commonwealth thanks to the Wayland Town Clerk’s office.

Wayland Births – 1868-1925

In addition to seeing individual birth certificates which you won’t find anywhere else, this collection also has Returns of a Birth, affidavits for delayed birth records, corrections of birth records and other miscellaneous notes about the births of Wayland residents.

In this affidavit we receive sworn testimony about the birth of Edward Baxter Bowles, born on 17 June 1868 in Wayland, by memory of his brother, Alexander Bowles on 28 August 1937 when Edward would have been 69 years old. In this account we learn more about the family than we ever would from a birth certificate.

Delayed Birth Certificate Affidavit for Edward Baxter Bowles, 1868 ,Wayland, MA.
Source: Digital Commonwealth

And here’s an example of a Return of Birth for Edwin Baxter Damon, February 8, 1898 in Wayland from the same collection.

Return of Birth of Edwin Baxter Damon, Wayland, MA.
Source: Digital Commonwealth

Wayland Marriages – 1785-1933

In addition to the Marriage Certificates, in this collection we find handwritten notes providing permissions from the parents for the marriage of minors. Most of the marriages in this collection fall between 1851 and 1925.

In this example we first see the note of permission from the parents of John Stone, aged 19, of Wayland and the parents of Martha Butterfield, age 17, of Wayland for their marriage. It is followed by the Certificate of Marriage issued by the town of Wayland.

Permission to marry for John Stone,age 19, and Martha Butterfield, age 17, Wayland, MA. Source: Digital Commonwealth
Certificate of Marriage for John E. Stone and Martha A. Butterfield, 19 June 1858
Source: Digital Commonwealth

Wayland Deaths – 1800-1933

To round out the vital records collections are the death records. These cover from 1860-1925. They include Returns of a Death (basically an individual death certificate) and Physician’s Certificates of the Cause of Death.

In this first image we see the Physician’s Certificate of the Cause of Death for Charles Underwood who died March 10, 1888.

Physician's Certificate of the Cause of Death for Charles Underwood
Physician’s Certificate of the Cause of Death for Charles Underwood
Source: Digital Commonwealth

In addition, we have the Return of a Death, also for Charles Underwood. This document provides much more information about Mr. Underwood including his age (83), marital status, place of birth, names of parents and their birth locations and place of interment.

Example showing a Return of Death from Wayland, MA

While there are no indexes for these vital record collections, you should be able to easily locate dates for births, marriages and deaths from other online collections and then use those dates to search chronologically through this collections. The advantage in this collection is that there are documents and information that aren’t necessarily collected at the state level, particularly in regards to the delayed birth records and the permissions for the underage marriages.

Read other Wayland, Massachusetts articles here.

Cite/link to this post: Marian Pierre-Louis, “Unique Wayland Vital Records Available from Digital Commonwealth,” The Northeast House Historian (https://northeasthousehistorian.com/unique-wayland-vital-records-available-from-digital-commonwealth/ : posted 20 May 2024).

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