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Introduction to Vital Records
Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. United States Vital Records has additional research guidance on researching and using vital records. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Washington Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
Washington Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online
The following is a list of online resources useful for locating Washington Vital Records which consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Most online resources for Washington Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.
- Search the Washington Digital Archives, a growing collection of Washington State records. including on-line images of records and certificates - Free
- Washington Links from fhlfavorites.info - Free
- Washington Databases listed on Rootsweb.com - Free
- USGenWeb.org Washington Site - Free
- Search for Washington Collections on FamilySearch.org Historical Records - Free
- The Vital Records Search and Information Directory for Washington - Free/$
- Wee Monster Links for Washington Birth & Marriage and Death Records - Free/$
- Linkpendium Links for Washington Genealogy and History, including individual Counties - Free/$
- Progenealogists Links for the United States. Press Ctrl + F on the keyboard to search for Washington or WA - Free/$
- Search the Washington Birth, Marriage & Death Records at Ancestry.com - $
- Order Washington Certificates online - $
If you are aware of other online databases, please feel free to add them.
Birth and Death Records
Statewide registration of births and deaths in Washington began in 1907 and was generally complied with by 1917. For copies of state birth and death records, write to:
P. O. Box 9709
Olympia, WA 98504-9709
Internet: Washington State Center for Health Statistics
The current fees and information for obtaining copies of the state's records are on the internet (above), or you can write for the information at the address above.
The Vital Records office has a series of indexes to state birth and death records from 1907 to the present. Copies of the indexes to death records from 1907 to 1979 are also at the Washington State Library.
The Family History Library has copies of many of the state records from 1907 to 1952. Although the files are incomplete, these records include:
- Birth certificates, 1907-1960, and five soundex indexes, 1907-1954. 
- Death certificates, 1907-1957, and five soundex indexes, 1907-1979. 
- Delayed Birth Records
Individuals who were born prior to 1907, or who did not have a birth certificate, may have applied for a delayed birth certificate at a superior court or at the State Department of Health. Washington began keeping delayed birth records in 1907. Many unrecorded births were finally registered during World War II or as people applied for Social Security.
Delayed birth records are available from the Vital Records office (see address above). The Family History Library has copies and accompanying soundex indexes of the delayed birth records issued from 1936 to 1953 (65 films beginning with film: ) .
The Washington Digital Archives has added a database containing Washington State Death Records 1907-1960, Birth Records and Marriage Records for some Counties.
County Records of Births and Deaths
Although a few counties began recording births and deaths several years earlier, most Washington counties began keeping records in 1891. County birth and death records from the earliest dates to 1906 are at each county auditor's office or county health department. Some of the larger counties have copies of records after 1906, but most counties do not.
The Family History Library does not have copies of the county birth and death records. However, the library has some published birth and death records for a few counties, such as the Snohomish County death records from 1891 to 1914.
City Records of Births and Deaths
Some Washington cities have kept birth and death records. For example, Tacoma birth and death records from 1887 to the present are available at the Pierce County Health Department. For information about city records, write to the appropriate county health department. Some city records have been indexed.
The following records are available:
- State marriage and divorce records. Statewide registration of marriages and divorces began in 1968. For copies of these records, write to the Vital Records office (address above). The Family History Library does not have copies of these records.
- County marriage records. Most counties began recording marriages soon after the county was organized. The records of some counties begin as early as the 1850s. Each county auditor has copies of county marriage records from the earliest dates to the present. The Family History Library does not have copies of these records, but has copies of transcribed marriage records published for a few counties, such as Clark County from 1862 to 1913.
- Gretna Greens. When a Washington State couple's marriage is not in their home county, search for it in alternate places like Port Orchard for the greater Seattle area, or Coeur d'Alene ID for Spokane and western Washington.
- County divorce records. County divorce records generally begin in 1889, although a number of counties kept records prior to that date. Some county divorce records begin as early as the 1850s. These records are available from the county clerk.
- Territorial divorce records. Some divorce records from 1853 to 1889 are included in the Washington territorial records. These early divorce proceedings are interfiled with other territorial records and have not been indexed. The Washington State Library has copies of the territorial records.
- Information listed on vital records is given by an informant. Learn the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) of the record. The closer the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) and whether or not the informant was present at the time of the event can help determine the accuracy of the information found on the record.
- If you are unable to locate vital records recorded by governments, search for church records of christening, marriage, death or burial. A family Bible may have been used to record births, marriages and deaths.
- Privacy laws may restrict your access to some vital records. Copies of some vital records recorded in the last 100 years may be unavailable to anyone except a direct relative.
- Search for Vital Records in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search and then choosing Vital Records. Search for Washington to locate records filed by the State and then search the name of the county to locate records kept by the county.
| 136 Quincy City
|| 183 Port Orchard City
|| 274 Buckley City
|| 330 Stevens Co.
|| 397 Selah City
- ↑ 1,432 Family History Library films beginning with film 1711751).
- ↑ 521 Family History Library films beginning with film 230399).
- ↑ Arlene H. Eakle, "Have you searched and searched for a marriage without finding it?" in Genealogy Blog at http://www.arleneeakle.com/wordpress/2007/02/19/have-you-searched-and-searched-for-the-marriage-without-finding-it/ (accessed 8 January 2011).