How to Find Massachusetts Birth RecordsEdit This Page

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How to Find United States Births Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Births

Towns have been recording births in Massachusetts since the 1600s. Statewide registration began in 1841.

Next Step: When did the birth occur?

Choose a time period to search for your ancestor's birth record:

Learn more about U.S. Birth Records

Births before 1841

For births that exist during the time period, try the following databases:

Includes Index and Digital Images

1600-1850 - At Massachusetts Vital Records Project Free; Transcriptions and images of Massachusetts town vital records. Includes births, marriages, and deaths. The collection is comprised of records for over 150 Massachusetts towns.

1620-1988 - use Ancestry Institution at FamilySearch Centers/Libraries Free at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Database and images of Massachusetts town records that include births, marriages, and deaths. The collection is comprised of records for over 260 Massachusetts towns.

1620-1850 - use Ancestry Institution at FamilySearch Centers/Libraries Free at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Index to published town birth records for many, but not all Massachusetts towns.

Early-1850 - use American Ancestors at the Family History Library Free at the Family History Library; Includes index and digital images of published town vital records.
Can't find your ancestor in the index? Tips for searching indexes
No birth record for your ancestor? Other records with birth information
Return to top: Choose another birth year


Births from 1841 thru 1920

Massachusetts was the first state to initiate statewide registration of vital records beginning in 1841. However, the city of Boston, which had kept records prior to this time, didn't start reporting their vital statistics to the state until about 1850. Records from 1841 to 1920 are housed at the Massachusetts Archives. Every five years, another block of five years is transferred from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to the Archives.

For births that exist during the time period, try the following databases:

Includes Index and Digital Images
1841-1915 - At FamilySearch.org Free; Includes index and digital images
1841-1920 - At FamilySearch.org Free; Browse only collection. Includes births, 1916-1920 and amended birth records, 1841-1920

1841-1910 - Massachusetts Archives database Free; Searchable index of Massachusetts birth, marriage, and death records.

1841-1910 - use American Ancestors at the Family History Library Free at the Family History Library; Includes index, digital images, and amended birth records

1911-1915 - use American Ancestors at the Family History Library Free at the Family History Library; Includes index, digital images, and amended birth records

1620-1988 - use Ancestry Institution at FamilySearch Centers/Libraries Free at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries; Database and images of Massachusetts town records that include births, marriages, and deaths. The collection is comprised of records for over 260 Massachusetts towns.
Can't find your ancestor in the index? Tips for searching indexes
No birth record for your ancestor? Other records with birth information
Return to top: Choose another birth year


Births after 1920

With an exact date (from your records or the index above), you can order a copy of the birth record for a fee from the following locations:

To Order Birth Certificates
From Town Clerk From Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
Pros Cons Pros Cons
It's cheaper and faster than ordering from the state Town websites can be more difficult to use Onsite researchers can access public birth indexes Only certified copies of records are issued, regardless of intended use. It's cheaper to order the record from the town clerk

If you do not know the exact date or place of birth:
For a fee, the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics will do a 10 year search.

Restrictions for non-marital (out-of-wedlock) births:
To obtain a copy of the birth certificate for those born out-of-wedlock, you must be:

  • The subject of the record (child)
  • The parents listed on the record
  • The father not listed on the record with documentary proof that he is the father (such as a paternity adjudication, stipulation or properly completed Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage)
  • The legal guardian of the child
  • The legal representative of the child
NOTE: A copy of an out-of-wedlock birth record cannot be obtained by anyone except those listed above.

If you do not want to order the birth record, there are other records with birth information you can search.

Return to top: Choose another birth year


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  • This page was last modified on 28 July 2014, at 22:54.
  • This page has been accessed 1,275 times.