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United States Gotoarrow.pngAlabama Gotoarrow.png Alabama Birth, Marriage and Death Records

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 Alabama Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred. See also Alabama indexes and Alabama Record Collectionsfound in the Family History Library Catalog.

Contents

 
Vital Records Collage.JPG
  

Marriage Records  Death Records
Early - 1825 Alabama Deaths, 1908-1974
Alabama Marriages, 1816-1957 1808 - 1870   $
1800 - 1969  $

1908 - 1959   $


FamilySearch Indexing icon.png Records from this area are currently being indexed by volunteers. Come join the effort and help us index the US, Alabama—County Marriages, 1809–1950 Part C


Birth Records

Before 1881

No births were recorded by government agencies prior to 1881. See Substitute Records below.

1881 to 1908

Starting in 1881, the State of Alabama required individual counties to register the birth of children. Because most counties were slow to comply, not all births were recorded. In addition, many records from this time period are missing or were destroyed. Birth registers from this time period usually do not list the name of the child.

FamilySearch has a partial index of Births and Christenings, 1881-1930. Background information about the source of this index is available here.

To obtain copies of birth records from this time period, contact the County Court where the birth occurred.

To access microfilmed copies of county birth records for some Alabama Counties do a "Place-name Search" of theFamily History Library Catalog for the appropriate county name in the folllowing format:  "Alabama, <county name>".  (See How to do a Place-name search wiki page.)

1908 to Present

The State of Alabama required the registration of births on a state level beginning in 1908. Early registration in this time period was sketchy. Most births were recorded by 1927. Early birth registers and certificates generally do not contain the name of the child but may contain other important information as shown in the table below. It is more common to find the child's name by the 1920's. Birth Certificates are confidential for 125 years following the date of birth. To obtain copies of original birth records, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health

Resources for Alabama Birth Records

Adoption Records

Alabama adoption law requires the creation of a new birth certificate after a legal adoption has taken place. The original birth certificate and evidence of adoption are then placed in a sealed file and the new certificate is substituted for the original birth certificate in the State Department of Vital Statistics files. Starting August 1, 2000, original birth records (as well as all documents in the sealed file) became available to adoptees once they reached the age of 19. The Alabama Department of Public Health has detailed information about obtaining copies of sealed birth records. See Adoption Research for more information.

Marriage Records

1799 - March 3, 1817 Mississippi Territory

In 1799, a law passed in the Mississippi Territory (including present day Alabama) requiring marriage licenses and bonds to be registered at the Orphans Court in the county of the bride's residence. To obtain copies of original marriage records, contact the Probate Court in the county where the license was issued.
To access microfilmed copies of county marriage records for some Alabama Counties do a "Place-name Search" of theFamily History Library Catalog for the appropriate county name in the folllowing format:  "Alabama, <county name>".  (See How to do a Place-name search wiki page.)

1818 - 1957 Alabama Territory/State

Marriage licenses and bonds were registered in the Orphans Court (renamed the Probate Court in 1850) in the county of the bride's residence. Starting in 1888, bonds were only required if the groom was under the age of 21 or the bride was under the age of 18. To obtain copies of original marriage records, contact the Probate Court in the county where the license was issued or the Alabama Department of Archives and History.


To access microfilmed copies of county marriage records for some Alabama Counties do a "Place-name Search" of the Family History Library Catalog for the appropriate county name in the folllowing format: "Alabama, <county name>".  (See How to do a Place-name search wiki page.)


FamilySearch provides a name index to Alabama Marriages, 1816-1957.   Background information regarding these historical records is available here.  Also available for some counties are indexes and images of Alabama, County Marriages, 1809-1950. (Records are added as they become available.)

1936 - Present

Alabama started keeping statewide marriage records in August of 1936. For current fees and instructions for obtaining copies of the State’s records, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Resources for Alabama Marriage Records

Divorce Records

Early - 1950

Prior to 1950, divorces could be granted by the State Legislature, Circuit Courts, City Courts, and County Chancery Courts. In 1915, the County Chancery Courts were merged with the County Circuit Courts. Divorces finalized by the State Legislature can be found in the published Alabama Legislative Journals. To locate divorce records for this time period, contact the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county where the divorce was granted.

1950 - Present

In January 1950, Alabama started keeping statewide divorce records. Contact the Alabama Department of Public Health to obtain divorce records for this time period. Ancestry.com also has an index for divorces granted between 1950 and 1959. ($)

Death Records

Before 1881

No deaths were recorded by government agencies. See Substitute Records below.

1881 to 1908

Starting in 1881, the State of Alabama required individual counties to register deaths. Because most counties were slow to comply, not all deaths were recorded. In addition, many records from this time period are missing or were destroyed.

FamilySearch has a partial index of Deaths and Burials, 1881-1952. Background information (including county names and number of records indexed)  is available here.

To obtain copies of death records from this time period, contact the County Court where the death occurred.
To access microfilmed copies of county marriage records for some Alabama Counties do a "Place-name Search" of the Family History Library Catalog for the appropriate county name in the folllowing format: "Alabama, <county name>".  (See How to do a Place-name search wiki page.)

January 1908 - Present

Starting in January of 1908, Alabama State Law required the registration of all deaths occuring within the state of Alabama. Copies of death certificates were filed with the Alabama Center for Health Statistics. Information found on a death certificate is reported by an informant (usually a relative) and may or may not be accurate.

FamilySearch provides an index to death certificates from the state of Alabama, 1908-1974. Background information regarding these historical records is available here.

To obtain copies of original death records, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Resources for Alabama Death Records

A wiki artice describing an online collection is found at:

Alabama Statewide Death Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Minorities

African Americans

When searching for birth, marriage, or death records for African Americans after the Civil War, check the record types listed above. Birth, marriage, and death information for African Americans prior to the Civil War can be found in other sources. See Alabama Minorities for more information.

Native Americans

In order to find birth, marriage, or death information on Native Americans living in Alabama you must know which tribe the individual belonged to.  Indians of Alabama has more specific information about tribes in the State.

Substitute Records

Use substitute records to verify and enrich knowledge about an event or where better records do not exist, to establish evidence of the birth, marriage or death of your ancestor.

  • Cemetery Records : Cemetery records are a rich source of birth and death information. These records may also reveal family relationships.
  • Federal/State Censuses - some pre-1850 censuses included every name.  Census records are a valuable source for birth and marriage information. You may also determine approximate time of death when the individual disappear from the census. This is a good place to begin a search
  • Church Records: Depending on the denomination, church records may contain information about birth, marriage and death.
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI): The SSDI indexes deaths for those who had social security numbers and the death was reported to the Social Security Administration.
    • Histories:  Local histories, family histories and biographies can all be sources of birth, marriage and death information. Often this information is found in county-level records or in surname searches of the Family History Library catalog.
  • Newspapers - look for birth announcements, marriages, reports on divorces, death notices, and Obituaries : Besides obituaries, local newspapers may contain birth and marriage announcements and death notices. Also check newspaper social columns for additional information.
  • Military Records: Military pension records can give birth, marriage and death information. In addition, soldiers' homes records can included this same information.
  • Periodicals - search the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) Local genealogical and historical societies often publish periodicals which may contain abstracted early birth, marriage and death information.
  • Probate Records: If no death record exists, probate records may be helpful in estimating when an individual has died. Probate records in the 20th Century often contain the exact death date.

Lost / Missing Records

Some records for a given county or for the state of Alabama may have been burned or lost and may be unavailable. Check Alabama Lost/Missing Records for more information.

Tips

  • 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 you determine the accuracy of the information found on the record.
  • If you are unable to locate vital records recorded by governments, search in church records for christening, marriage, death, or burial records. A family Bible may also have been used to record family births, marriages and deaths.
  • Records for African Americans are often recorded in separate files with separate indexes.
  • 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 direct descendants and/or ancestors.
  • If the survival of a baby was questioned, the birth may not have been recorded.
  • Search for Vital Records in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search and then choosing Vital Records. Search for Alabama to locate records filed by the State and then search the name of the county to locate records kept by that county.

Archives, Libraries & Societies

Statewide Archives, Libraries, Historical Societies and Genealogical Societies as well as County Historical and Genealogical Societies may have collections that can be of great value when doing Alabama research. Contact the specific Archive, Society, or Library for information on what record types are available, if the records are available online, or if copies of records can be obtained for a fee. 

Online Alabama Birth, Marriage and Death Records

The following is a list of online resources useful for locating Alabama Vital Records. Check Alabama Vital Records Online for more information about the resources listed below. Most online resources for Alabama Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.

Wiki articles describing these collections are found at:

Bibliography

  • Barefield, Marilyn Davis. Researching in Alabama a Genealogical Guide, Southern Historical Press, 1987.
  • Nancy Dupree, Reference Consultant for Alabama Department of Archives and History. Telephone interview. 14 Jan. 2009.
  • http://www.adph.org/vitalrecords/Default.asp?id=1558 Alabama Center for Health Statistics - Vital Records].
  • Davis, Robert S., and Mary Bess Paluzzi. "Alabama" in Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, 3rd ed. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 1992. pp. 21-34.
 

 

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