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City and County Records of Births and Deaths
As early as 1873 some cities and towns in Texas had authorized the registration of births and deaths. For a brief period from 1873 to 1876, the county recorders also recorded births. For records from early times to 1903, write to the clerk's office in the county where the event occurred. The records are open to public inspection.
State Records of Births and Deaths
Statewide registration of births and deaths began in 1903 with the formation of the Texas Department of Public Health. For copies of records from 1903 to the present, write to:
Bureau of Vital Statistics
Texas Department of Health
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, TX 78756-3191
Only authorized personnel may search the records. The current fees for obtaining copies of the state's records are listed in Where to Write for Vital Records: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces. Hyattsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 1993. (Family History Library book 973 V24wv.) Copies of this booklet are at the Family History Library and many Family History Centers.
The Texas State Library and Archives has indexes to birth, "probate births" (delayed registrations), and death records from 1903 to 1973. These are available for public searches.
Prior to 1836, only the Catholic Church could legally solemnize marriages. As a result, many Protestants will be listed in the Catholic records. From 1837 to 1966, the county recorders issued marriage licenses and kept marriage registers. Copies of the records can be obtained by writing to the clerk of the county where the license was issued. For information from 1966 to the present, write to the Bureau of Vital Statistics (see address above).
The Family History Library has acquired copies of marriage records from many county courthouses. From the clerk of the county court in Bexar County, for example, the library has 49 microfilms of marriages and indexes for 1837 to 1925.
The Texas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other societies have compiled many early vital records. Examples of published transcripts of marriages are:
- Grammer, Norma Rutledge. Marriage Records of Early Texas, 1824-1846. Fort Worth, Texas: Fort Worth Genealogical Society, Texas 1971. (Family History Library book 976.4 V25g; film 982117.)
- Swenson, Helen Smothers. 8,800 Texas Marriages, 1824-1850. Two Volumes. Round Rock, Texas: H. Swenson, 1981. (Family History Library book 976.4 V2s.)
From 1837 to 1841, divorces were obtained by special acts of Congress. In 1841, the district courts were given jurisdiction, with some restrictions, over divorces. Since 1846, they have had jurisdiction over all cases. You can write to the clerk of the district court in the county where the decree was granted for copies of records.
Inventory of Vital Records
You can learn more about the history and availability of the records in Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Texas. N.p.: Historical Records Survey, 1941. Family History Library book 976.4 A3gp; film 1000610 item 14.)
Texas Marriage and Divorce:
General Vital Records: