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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 Texas Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.

Contents

 
Vital Records.jpg
  

Birth Records Marriage Records  Death/Will Records



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Texas Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online

The following is a list of online resources useful for locating Texas Vital Records which consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Most online resources for Texas Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.

Birth

Marriage

Death

If you are aware of other online databases, please feel free to add them.

Birth Records

Texas Birth Records (FamilySearch Historical Collections)

Texas Births and Christenings (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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 Death Records first search:

If not located at FamilySearch, write to:

Bureau of Vital Statistics
Texas Department of Health
1100 West 49th Street
Austin, TX 78756-3191
Telephone: 512-458-7111
Internet: Texas Vital Statistics

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. [1]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.

Adoption Records

open / closed / state statutes All adoption records in Texas are sealed meaning once the adoption is completed, no one may have access to the record without a court order from the court which sealed it. This includes the adult adoptee, adoptive parents and birth parents. In the case of step parent adoptions or other family member adoptions the prohibition still applies. The opening of a record is solely at the discretion of the judge. There are no required guidelines for a judge to follow. Traditionally, the sealing has included the original birth certificate naming the birth parent(s). The original birth certificate is created in the County Clerks office in the county where the birth occurred and a copy is sent to Austin. Until the adoption is finalized, a birth parent may have a copy of the birth certificate. When the adoption is finalized, the court order along with the original birth certificate is sent to Austin where a new birth certificate is generated naming the adoptive parents in place of the birth parent(s). The new certificate is called a supplemental birth certificate. A copy of the supplemental birth certificate is sent to the County Clerk for their records. Both the original and the supplemental birth certificates have the same number. Some supplemental birth certificates have an "A" after the number to identify it as an amended birth certificate. If an adult adoptee knows the name of his/her birth parent(s)as stated on the original birth certificate, he/she may obtain a non-certified copy of the birth certificate without having a court order. Mostly, these are step parent or family adoptions where the adult adoptee has a personal knowledge of the birth parent(s).

Marriage Records

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:

  • Marriage Records of Early Texas, 1824-1846. [2]
  • 8,800 Texas Marriages, 1824-1850 [3]

Texas Marriages

Texas Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Divorce Records

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.

Lost and Missing Records

Denton 1875, liberty 1874, Rusk 1878, Trinity 1876,

Substitute Records

Texas Church Records

Texas Cemetery Records

Texas Census

Texas Newspapers

Texas Periodicals

Texas Military Records

Tips

  • Information listed on vital records is given by an informant.  Learn the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) or 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, marrriage, 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 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 Texas to locate records filed by the State and then search the name of the county to locate records kept by the county.

Archive, Libraries and Societies

Texas Archive and Libraries

Texas Societies

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. [4]

Texas Death Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Texas County Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Texas Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)

References

  1. Hyattsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 1993. (Family History Library book 973 V24wv.)
  2. 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.)
  3. Swenson, Helen Smothers. 8,800 Texas Marriages, 1824-1850. Two Volumes. Round Rock, Texas: H. Swenson, 1981. (Family History Library book 976.4 V2s.)
  4. Historical Records Survey, 1941. Family History Library book 976.4 A3gp; film 1000610 item 14.)

 

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