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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 Iowa Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
Vital Records Reference Dates
Iowa's vital records start the following years:
Iowa Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online
The following is a list of online resources useful for locating Iowa Vital Records which consist of births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Most online resources for Iowa Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.
Order a copy of the certificate:
Birth records contain much information for family historians. Because births are recorded near the time of the event, they are considered a primary source. In birth records, you generally find the date and place of birth; name and sex of the child; name, residence, race, age, birthplace, and occupation of the father and mother; the mother’s maiden name; number of children born to the mother; number of living children; and physician’s certificate. For more information on birth records see the birth records page.
County Records of Births and Deaths
A few counties in Iowa began to register vital statistics during the 1870s, but most county records began in 1880, when a state law took effect requiring counties to register births and deaths. This law was generally complied with by 1924. In the 1940s, many people applied for delayed birth certificates in order to be eligible for Social Security benefits.
The Iowa GenWeb page offers a chart of each Iowa county, and the dates that they began keeping birth, marriage and death records. Many of the counties have transcribed records available at the site if you click on the county name from the chart. For more information see the Vital Records page for the United States.
State Records of Births and Deaths
The state has copies of birth records beginning in July 1880 and copies of death records beginning in January 1891. Copies are available to immediate family members only. You will need to state your relationship to the individual whose record you want and the reason you want the information. To request copies or information about fees and restrictions, contact:
Iowa Department of Public Health
Click here for current fees and lists of services.
Iowa county marriage records have been kept since about 1835. These marriage records may provide names, ages, races, residences, occupations, birthplaces, maiden name of wife, marriage date and place, parents’ names, and the name of person who performed the marriage. Some certificates give the number of times the groom has been married. For more information about marriage records see the United States Marriage Records page.
You may obtain copies of the original records by contacting the clerk of the district court in the county where the license was issued. Many marriage records have been transcribed and published by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and other organizations. See the Bible Records page for information on the DAR collection.
Some early Iowa marriages pre-1850 have been transcribed.
Many eloping couples went to Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa to be married, there was no waiting period between the time of issuing a license and the performance of the marriage. Keokuk is located on the Mississippi; making it accessible to those traveling the river.
Records of 11 counties are given in the following collection:
Death records are also a valuable source. Often, they give: date, place, and cause of death, name, residence, sex, race, marital status, age, occupation and birth place of the deceased, date and place of burial, name and birth place of father, and maiden name and birth place of mother.
These death records are maintained by the clerk of the district court of the respective county. There are some death indexes that are very helpful.
Coroners investigated deaths that were not attended by a physician and determined the cause of the death. The coroner of each county kept records of his findings. Some of these records began as early as 1855. The County Coroner’s Office was established by the Iowa State Constitution. The coroner’s records may provide the name of the deceased person, his or her age, the cause of death, the parents’ names, and circumstances of the death. Some of these records are available at the Family History Library such as Coroner's Reports, 1855–1959. 
Iowa divorce records have been kept since about 1834, when the first Iowa county was formed. They may provide: a person’s age, the divorce date, maiden name of wife, marriage date and place, occupation, childrens’ names, names of other family members, and places the family lived. Early divorce proceedings are in the district court of each county, and beginning in 1906, transcribed copies of divorce records were sent to the state.
The Family History Library has copies of the following divorce records:
In the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog, divorce records are listed under:
IOWA, [COUNTY] - DIVORCE RECORDS
For a list of record loss in Illinois counties see the following:
These links will take you to wiki pages describing alternate sources for birth, marriage and death records.
More Online Iowa Vital Records Links
For more information about the history and availability of vital records in Iowa up to 1941, see: Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Iowa 
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