United States Vital Records

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{{USVital-sidebar}}<div style="float: right; width: 75%"><center>''[[United States]]&nbsp; [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]&nbsp; [[United_States_Vital_Records|Vital Records]]''</center><br>  
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{{USVital-sidebar}}<div style="width: 75%; float: right"><center>''[[United States]]&nbsp; [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]]&nbsp; [[United_States_Vital_Records|Vital Records]]''<br>See also [[United States, How to Find Genealogy Records]]<br></center><br>
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*Uniquely identify a person
 
*Uniquely identify a person
  
'''For information about using vital records kept on a local level''', [[United States, Using Local Vital Records|click here]].  
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See ''[https://www.familysearch.org/learningcenter/results.html?fq=place%3A%22United+States%22&resultListItem=2 Ancestors Season 2: Vital Records]''&nbsp;in the FamilySearch Learning Center.&nbsp;<br>
  
 
=== Quick Links  ===
 
=== Quick Links  ===
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*[[United States Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
 
*[[United States Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
  
=== Vital Records of Each State ===
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=== <center>Vital Records of Each State</center> ===
  
 
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*[[Image:Alabama flag.png|border|22x15px]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Alabama Birth, Marriage, and Death Records|Alabama]]  
 
*[[Image:Alabama flag.png|border|22x15px]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Alabama Birth, Marriage, and Death Records|Alabama]]  
*[[Image:Alaska flag.png|border|22x15px]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Alaska Birth, Marriage and Death Records|Alaska]]  
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*[[Image:Alaska flag.png|border|22x15px]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Alaska Vital Records|Alaska]]  
 
*[[Image:Arizona flag.png|border|22x15px]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Arizona Birth, Marriage and Death Records|Arizona]]  
 
*[[Image:Arizona flag.png|border|22x15px]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Arizona Birth, Marriage and Death Records|Arizona]]  
 
*[[Image:Arkansas flag.png|border|22x15px]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Arkansas Birth, Marriage and Death Records|Arkansas]]  
 
*[[Image:Arkansas flag.png|border|22x15px]]&nbsp;&nbsp;[[Arkansas Birth, Marriage and Death Records|Arkansas]]  
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=== Vital Records in U.S. Territories ===
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=== <center>Vital Records in U.S. Territories</center> ===
  
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|-
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<center>'''Territories'''</center><br>
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| valign="top" align="left" |  
*[[Image:American Samoa flag.png|border|22x11px]] [[American Samoa Vital Records|American Samoa]]
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*[[Image:American Samoa flag.png|border|22x11px]] [[American Samoa Vital Records|American&nbsp;Samoa]]  
*[[Image:Cuba flag.png|border|22x11px]] [[Cuba|Cuba]]
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*[[Image:Guam flag.png|border|22x13px]] Guam
*[[Image:District of Columbia flag.png|border|22x11px]] [[District of Columbia|District of Columbia]]  
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*[[Image:Guam flag.png|border|22x13px]] [[Guam|Guam]]
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| valign="top" align="left" |  
 
| valign="top" align="left" |  
*[[Image:Marshall Islands flag.png|border|22x12px]] [[Marshall Islands|Marshall Islands]]
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*[[Image:Northern Mariana Islands flag.png|border|22x11px]] Northern<br>Mariana Islands
*[[Image:Micronesia, Federated States of, flag.png|border|22x12px]][[Micronesia|Micronesia]]
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*[[Image:Northern Mariana Islands flag.png|border|22x11px]] [[Northern Mariana Islands|Northern Mariana Islands]]
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*[[Image:Palau flag.png|border|22x14px]] [[Portal:Palau|Palau]]
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| valign="top" align="left" |  
 
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*[[Image:Panama canal zone flag.png|border|22x13px]] [[Panama Canal Zone|Panama Canal Zone]]
 
*[[Image:Philippines flag.png|border|22x11px]] [[Philippines|Philippines]]
 
 
*[[Image:Puerto Rico flag.png|border|22x15px]] [[Puerto Rico Civil Registration|Puerto Rico]]  
 
*[[Image:Puerto Rico flag.png|border|22x15px]] [[Puerto Rico Civil Registration|Puerto Rico]]  
*[[Image:Virgin Islands flag.png|border|22x14px]] [[U.S. Virgin Islands|Virgin Islands]]
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*[[Image:Virgin Islands flag.png|border|22x14px]] [[U.S. Virgin Islands Civil Registration|Virgin&nbsp;Islands]]
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|-
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<center>'''Former Territories'''</center><br>
  
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| valign="top" align="left" |
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*[[Image:Cuba flag.png|border|22x11px]] Cuba
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*[[Image:Marshall Islands flag.png|border|22x12px]] Marshall Islands
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| valign="top" align="left" |
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*[[Image:Micronesia, Federated States of, flag.png|border|22x12px]] [[Federated States of Micronesia Civil Registration|Micronesia]]
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*[[Image:Palau flag.png|border|22x14px]] Palau
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| valign="top" align="left" |
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*[[Image:Panama canal zone flag.png|border|22x13px]] [[Panama Canal Zone Vital Records|Panama&nbsp;Canal&nbsp;Zone]]
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*[[Image:Philippines flag.png|border|22x11px]] [[Philippines Civil Registration- Vital Records|Philippines]]
 
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*Leonard, Barry. ''Where to Write for Vital Records: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces''Published by DIANE Publishing, 2007.&nbsp; 47 pages. Full text available at [http://books.google.com/books?id=jx8HDU6V700C Google Books]. [http://www.worldcat.org/isbn/1422314820 Worldcat].
 
*Leonard, Barry. ''Where to Write for Vital Records: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces''Published by DIANE Publishing, 2007.&nbsp; 47 pages. Full text available at [http://books.google.com/books?id=jx8HDU6V700C Google Books]. [http://www.worldcat.org/isbn/1422314820 Worldcat].
  
*Szucs, Loretto Dennis, Luebking, Sandra Hargreaves. ''The source: a guidebook of American genealogy''. Edition: 3, illustrated. Published by Ancestry Publishing, 2005. 965 pages. [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/64084569 Worldcat] {{FHL|1211475|title no}} Book.
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*Szucs, Loretto Dennis, Luebking, Sandra Hargreaves. ''The source: a guidebook of American genealogy''. Edition: 3, illustrated. Published by Ancestry Publishing, 2005. 965 pages. [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/64084569 Worldcat] {{FHL|776716|title-id}} Book.
  
*Roach, Anne. ''[https://fch.ldschurch.org/WWSupport/Courses/FamilyHistoryLibraryExport/Goldmine__Beyond_the_Court_Order_Book/Player.html Courthouse Records Overview]'' (35 minute online video) [http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/education/frameset_education.asp?PAGE=education_research_series_online.asp%3FActiveTab=2 FamilySearch Research Classes Online],2010.&nbsp; Watch this online class video to better understand courthouse records which may include guardianship, probate, divorce and adoption records.&nbsp; Each of these records&nbsp;may give you vital records information.
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*Roach, Anne. ''[https://fch.ldschurch.org/WWSupport/Courses/FamilyHistoryLibraryExport/Goldmine__Beyond_the_Court_Order_Book/Player.html Courthouse Records Overview]'' (35 minute online video) [https://www.familysearch.org/learningcenter/home.html FamilySearch Research Classes Online],2010.&nbsp; Watch this online class video to better understand courthouse records which may include guardianship, probate, divorce and adoption records.&nbsp; Each of these records&nbsp;may give you vital records information.
  
 
=== Records at the Family History Library  ===
 
=== Records at the Family History Library  ===
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Vital records can be found in the Place Search of the [[Family History Library Catalog Place Search|Family History Library Catalog]] under each of the following approaches:  
 
Vital records can be found in the Place Search of the [[Family History Library Catalog Place Search|Family History Library Catalog]] under each of the following approaches:  
  
::[STATE] - VITAL RECORDS<br>  
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::[STATE] - VITAL RECORDS<br>
::[STATE], [COUNTY] - VITAL RECORDS<br>  
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::[STATE], [COUNTY] - VITAL RECORDS<br>
 
::[STATE], [COUNTY], [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS
 
::[STATE], [COUNTY], [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS
  
 
In addition, some of the vital records available at the Family History Library are now indexed and digitized at [https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/list Historical Record Collections]. Browse the available collections for birth, marriage and death records of any given state.&nbsp; Most vital records are indexed and should be searched through the index.&nbsp; Some collections are not indexed and are available only as digitized record groups to browse.&nbsp;See each individual state's vital records wiki page for hints concerning RecordSearch collections pertaining to that state.  
 
In addition, some of the vital records available at the Family History Library are now indexed and digitized at [https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/list Historical Record Collections]. Browse the available collections for birth, marriage and death records of any given state.&nbsp; Most vital records are indexed and should be searched through the index.&nbsp; Some collections are not indexed and are available only as digitized record groups to browse.&nbsp;See each individual state's vital records wiki page for hints concerning RecordSearch collections pertaining to that state.  
  
The [[Family History Library|Family History Library]] has statewide collections and special indexes of vital records for most states. The library has good collections of county vital records for several states.  
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The [[Family History Library|Family History Library]] has statewide collections and special indexes of vital records for most states. The library has good collections of county vital records for several states.<br>
 
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=== FamilySearch Historical Record Collections ===
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Online collections containing these records are located in [https://familysearch.org/search/collection/list FamilySearch.org.]
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Wiki articales containing these collections are found at:
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'''Wiki articles containing online collections are found at:'''
  
*[[United_States_Births_and_Christenings_(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)|United States Births and Cahristenings (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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*[[United States Births and Christenings (FamilySearch Historical Records)|United States Births and Christenings (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
<div></div> </div>  
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*[[United States Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)|United States Death and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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*[[United States Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)|United States Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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<div></div></div>
 
[[Category:United_States|United_States]] [[Category:Record_Types_of_the_United_States|Record_Types_of_the_United_States]] [[Category:United_States_Vital_Records|United_States_Vital_Records]]
 
[[Category:United_States|United_States]] [[Category:Record_Types_of_the_United_States|Record_Types_of_the_United_States]] [[Category:United_States_Vital_Records|United_States_Vital_Records]]

Revision as of 01:57, 17 February 2013

Vital Records Topics
Substitute Records
Online Lessons
United States  Gotoarrow.png  Vital Records
See also United States, How to Find Genealogy Records


Contents

Vital Records Collage.JPG

Introduction

The practice of recording vital statistics developed slowly in the United States. Early birth, marriage and death information was sometimes recorded in brief entries in register books until the twentieth century, when it became more common to create certificates. Some town clerks in colonial America (especially New England) recorded vital information, but these records are incomplete. The federal government has not registered vital records, except for Americans born outside the country who were recorded in embassy or consulate records.

Records of marriages were generally the first vital records kept in a locality. In most states, the counties or towns began recording marriages as soon as they were established. Whether the marriage ceremony was performed by a civil or a church authority, local laws required the marriage to be recorded in civil records.

The local health departments of a few large cities began recording births and deaths by the mid-1800s. For example, records exist for Baltimore (from 1875), Boston (from 1639), New Orleans (from 1790), New York (from 1847), and Philadelphia (from 1860). The early records are usually incomplete. Many counties in the East and Midwest were recording births and deaths by the late 1800's.

Each state eventually developed its own laws and created a statewide registration system. Unfortunately, these records do not exist until the early 1900's in most states. Local offices did not always comply immediately with the registration laws. Within 20 years after registration laws were enacted, most states were recording at least 90 percent of the births and deaths. To learn more about the creation of civil records and the regional differences go to the United States Civil Records page.

Why Use Vital Records?

  • Provide birth date
  • Provide death date
  • Provide names of family members
  • Uniquely identify a person

See Ancestors Season 2: Vital Records in the FamilySearch Learning Center. 

Quick Links

Vital Records of Each State

Vital Records in U.S. Territories

Territories

  • Northern Mariana Islands flag.png Northern
    Mariana Islands
Former Territories

  • Cuba flag.png Cuba
  • Marshall Islands flag.png Marshall Islands

Search strategies

Use Death-related records 1st

Why might it be better to look for the death record of an ancestor first?

  • Your ancestor's death is more recent than his birth or marriage. It is usually best to work from recent events backward, from the known to the unknown.
  • The death record usually tells you where your ancestor last lived. Then you can look for other records for that place.
  • The death record may lead you to other documents created in connection with the death, such as the burial and probate of your ancestor. Those records may give new family information.
  • Death records may contain birth, marriage, and burial information as well as death information.
  • Death records exist for many persons born before birth and marriage records began. Death records may contain birth and marriage information not available anywhere else.

Analyze the record

Ask yourself these questions to use the record effectively:

  • What dates does this record provide?
  • What ages are given?
  • What places are mentioned in this record?
  • Are parents or a spouse named?
  • Are witnesses to the event related to the family?
  • Who provided the information? Was that person someone who knew the family well?
  • Does the death record give the name of the cemetery or funeral home? You may be able to search those records for more information.
  • Does the information from the record fit with what you know about the family from other records? If it does not agree, it may have been miscopied by a clerk. Check your sources.

Why can't I find a vital record?

Some possible reasons are:

  • Your ancestor might have lived in a different place from where you were looking for the birth, marriage, or death.
  • Your ancestor may have used a nickname or a different surname, or the registrar spelled the name wrong. See Name Variations in United States Indexes and Records.
  • Your ancestor might have lived at a slightly different time from the years you were looking.
  • Not every birth, marriage, or death was registered.

You can check:

  • The information you have for possible errors.
  • If your ancestor might have lived in a different place.
  • If your ancestor might have lived at a slightly different time.
  • If your ancestor's name might be recorded under:
  1. A different spelling.
  2. A nickname.
  3. An Americanization of a foreign surname.

Sometimes vital records were not recorded for various reasons, even when required.

For other ideas see:

Key Reference Sources

  • Leonard, Barry. Where to Write for Vital Records: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and DivorcesPublished by DIANE Publishing, 2007.  47 pages. Full text available at Google Books. Worldcat.
  • Szucs, Loretto Dennis, Luebking, Sandra Hargreaves. The source: a guidebook of American genealogy. Edition: 3, illustrated. Published by Ancestry Publishing, 2005. 965 pages. Worldcat FHL Collection Book.
  • Roach, Anne. Courthouse Records Overview (35 minute online video) FamilySearch Research Classes Online,2010.  Watch this online class video to better understand courthouse records which may include guardianship, probate, divorce and adoption records.  Each of these records may give you vital records information.

Records at the Family History Library

The Family History Library has copies of many state vital records. You may find further information about vital records and their availability in the wiki pages available for each state. Click on the state links in the table above for direct access individual state wiki pages concerning vital records.  

Even when vital records can be found in government offices, not all of these records are included in the Family History Library collection. There are several factors which affect the availability of vital records.  Records may be missing from the Family History Library collection if

  • a record was never kept
  • was not available in the courthouse at the time of microfilming
  • was not microfilmed
  • is restricted from public access by the laws of the state

You may use the records at the library for your family research, but the library does not issue or certify certificates for living or deceased individuals.

Vital records can be found in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under each of the following approaches:

[STATE] - VITAL RECORDS
[STATE], [COUNTY] - VITAL RECORDS
[STATE], [COUNTY], [TOWN] - VITAL RECORDS

In addition, some of the vital records available at the Family History Library are now indexed and digitized at Historical Record Collections. Browse the available collections for birth, marriage and death records of any given state.  Most vital records are indexed and should be searched through the index.  Some collections are not indexed and are available only as digitized record groups to browse. See each individual state's vital records wiki page for hints concerning RecordSearch collections pertaining to that state.

The Family History Library has statewide collections and special indexes of vital records for most states. The library has good collections of county vital records for several states.

Wiki articles containing online collections are found at: