Virginia Vital RecordsEdit This Page
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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 Virginia Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.
Vital Records Reference Dates
Virginia's civil records start the following years:
Online Birth, Marriage and Death Records for Virginia
The following is a list of online resources useful for locating Virginia Vital Records which consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Most online resources for Virginia Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.
Virginia Vital Records
"The first laws of Virginia were called the Laws Divine, Morall and Martiall, and were enacted by Sir Thomas Dale in 1610. The code required colonial Virginia ministers to record all christenings, marriages and burials in registers. Most of these registers have not survived. In 1619 ministers were required to present the register to the Secretary of the Colony and in 1642 the parish clerks were required to submit a monthly list of vital recores to the commander of every monethly court" Few if any of the monthly lists were recorded."
"The House of Burgesses passed a law regarding vital records in March 1660. Act XX, an Act to Record all Marriages, Births, and Burial, decreed, ..."
"Until 1786, the Anglican Church was the state church of Virginia. In accordance with English law, the church kept parish registers of vital statistics. Most no longer exist. Some are in the Virginia state Library. The Archives Division of the Virginia State Library has copies of all existing Virginia births and deaths prior to 1896 ..."
Birth and Death Records
Few births were recorded by civil authorities before 1853. You may find some information on pre-1853 births and deaths in genealogies, histories, church and Bible records, and collections of personal papers.
From 1853 to 1896, the state required the counties to record births and deaths. Microfilm copies of these are at the Library of Virginia. The Library of Virginia has indexes of the birth records to 1896. A fully searchable index to Virginia city and county Death Registers for 1853-1896 are on-line. This is an on-going project sponsored by the Virginia Genealogical Society. Fifteen cities and counties have been indexed to date. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many of the county birth and death records at the Library of Virginia. The statewide birth record index from 1853 to 1950. FHL Collection 2026327-52, with birth records from 1853 to 1896 on films beginning with 2046907).
Registration of births and deaths was not required between 1896 and 14 June 1912, but the health departments of some cities kept birth and death records during that period. Delayed birth registrations for the years 1896-1912 are available at the Division of Vital Records (see address below), and an index is on Family History Library films. FHL Collection 2026352-3.
Statewide registration of vital statistics began in 1912. The Division of Vital Records has the records from 14 June 1912 to the present. The Family History Library does not have copies of these records. You can obtain copies by going to VitalRecords.com
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
Few marriage records prior to 1730 have survived. Those that exist may be found in various places.
Records before 1853 Beginning in 1660, a couple could receive approval to marry by posting a bond with a civil authority or by announcing banns in church.
A bond was usually posted by a relative of the couple. This individual went to a county court clerk and made a written agreement to forfeit a sum of money (about $150 in the 1800s) as a guarantee that there was no reason to prevent the marriage. Records of marriage bonds sometimes include the parents' consent to the marriage if the bride or groom was a minor. The county clerk then gave the couple a license to be given to the minister who would perform the ceremony.
Marriage banns were announcements or publications of the intended marriage presented at three church meetings. This avoided the need to post a bond or obtain a license. The banns were recorded in the church records and the minister then performed the ceremony.
Beginning in 1660 the colonial government required church officials to record all marriages in church registers. Before 1780 these marriages were seldom reported to the county clerk, but in some cases they are recorded in county court order books. A law passed in 1780 required ministers to report all marriages to the county clerk.
Records since 1853 An 1853 state law required the clerk of the court in the county or independent city to issue marriage licenses and keep marriage records. Couples applying for a license provided the following information for the bride and groom. (Beginning in 1858, a standard form was used.)
After the certificate was completed, the clerk issued a license. When the marriage was performed, the minister returned the information to the clerk, who recorded it in the county or city marriage records or registers. For many counties the certificates no longer exist, but the county marriage record books generally provide the marriage information and the parents' names.
Copies of Marriage Records.
Copies of Virginia marriage records are available at several places. You can contact VitalRecords.com.
Contact the clerk of the court of the county or independent city for copies of the certificates, licenses, and registers kept by the county.
The Library of Virginia for copies of extant county marriage records and indexes from 1853 to 1935, microfilmed marriage bonds, and published marriage records for many counties. Vogt's book (see below) describes the holdings of the Library of Virginia.
The Library of Virginia has compiled a database entitled "Marriage Records Collection" of various card index files to marriages, formerly available to researchers in their reading room, that were created over the years by different individuals. It indexes selected information found in a variety of collections and sources at the Library. The records vary in completeness.
Freedmen's Bureau Virginia Marriages ca. 1815-1866--Names of thousands of former slaves are included in these records. A free index can be viewed at FamilySearch Record Search. Records may include the name of the bride & groom, date of marriage registration, residence, previous marriages, names and ages of children.
The Family History Library has microfilm copies of marriage bonds and marriage registers for most counties to about 1935 (and some to the 1960s). They can be found in the Family History Library Catalog Locality Search under:
The Family History Library does not have copies of the marriage indexes at the Library of Virginia but has the Marriage Registers, 1853-1935. 
Many published marriage records that are available include:
Wiki articles describing online collecions are found at:
The Cohabitation Records, officially titled, "Register of Colored Persons, Augusta County, State of Virginia, Cohabiting Together as Husband and Wife," are a record of free African American families living in Virginia immediately after the end of the Civil War. The records were created by the Freedmen's Bureau in an effort to document the marriages of formerly enslaved men and women that were legally recognized by an act of the Virginia Assembly in February 1866. Virginia State Law (White, Barnetta McGhee, Ph.D.,) Somebody Knows My Name: Marriages of Freed People in N.C. County by County.(Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co.), 1995: xxxiv. For more information about these records see the Cohabitation Records and Virginia Cohabitation Records Wiki pages.
Divorce records are usually kept by the county court. The records for 1853 to the present can be obtained by going to VitalRecords.com . The library has not obtained copies of divorce records.
open / closed / state statues
Lost and Missing Records
Amelia, Appomattox 1892, Buchanan 1885, 1977, Buckingham 1869, Caroline, Charles City, Cumberland, Dinwiddie 1864, Elizabeth City, Glouscester 1821, 1865, Greene C.W., Greenville, Hanover 1865, Henrico,Highland 1947, Isle of Wight, James City 1865, King and Queen 1825,1865, King George, King William 1855 1885, Mathews 1865, New Kent 1787, 1865, Northumberland 1710, Rockingham 1864, Russell 1853 and Warwick
More Online Virginia Vital Records Links
Family History Library Virginia Vital Records Collections
This is a collection of Family History Library records which are abstracted, indexed and titled the Virginia Vital Records Index. For over 30 years, volunteer indexers extracted this information from microfilm copies of the original records. In 1998, a few of the entries were published on 7 CDs by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the "North America Vital Records Index." This index is an index of the births, marriages, and deaths throughout Kentucky. The index is not necessarily complete for any particular place or region.
These records are availble online for free at FamilySearch Historical Records Collection.
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at: