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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 Wisconsin 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


Wisconsin Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online

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

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




Birth and Death Records Before 1907

A few counties began keeping birth and death records in the 1850s, but most records date from the 1870s or later. These documents often give excellent genealogical information. Search the Wisconsin Genealogy Index for pre 1907 birth marriage and death references.

Microfilms of the records through 1907 have been deposited at the at Wisconsin Historical Society and the area research centers listed on the "Archives and Libraries" page.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of the Registrations of Births, ca. 1852 to 1907. [1]Most counties begin in the 1870s. These are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under:

WISCONSIN - VITAL RECORDS

Birth certificates generally give both parents' names and their places of birth.

Death certificates usually give birth date and place, death date and place, name of spouse, names of the person's parents, burial place, and residence. After mid-July, 1897, they also give the birth place of the person's father and mother.

There are three indexes to these records. Copies of these indexes are at the Wisconsin Historical Society, the area research centers, and the Family History Library. These are:

  • Unedited Index to Registrations of Births, 1852–1907, arranged alphabetically by surname [2]This gives the date of birth, the county, and the volume and page number of the original record.
  • Index to Registrations of Births, 1852–1907, arranged chronologically by the date of birth. [3]Use this if you know the approximate date of birth or if the name is not found in the alphabetical index mentioned above.
  • The Pre-1907 Death Index by Name, alphabetically arranged for the entire state. [4]Be sure to search for spelling variations of the surname. Also available is the Death Records Index, 1959–1984. [5]

The Family History Library also has a large set of birth and death records from the Register of Deeds in Milwaukee County. In the Family History Library Catalog these are listed under:

WISCONSIN, MILWAUKEE COUNTY, MILWAUKEE - VITAL RECORDS:
  • Births, 1854–1911 and index, 1854–1932. [6]
  • Deaths, 1852–1912, and index, 1872–1916. [7]

Delayed registrations of births began in 1937. These are listed in the Family History Library Catalog as Delayed Births, ca. 1937–1941; Affidavit Delayed Births, ca. 1940–1942. [8]The records to 1942 are located at the Bureau for Health Statistics (see address below). Later records are at the county courthouses.

Many of the delayed registrations have been included in the Unedited Pre-1907 birth index because the births occurred before statewide registration began.

Records of Births and Deaths Since 1907

Statewide registration of births and deaths began in 1907. The Family History Library does not have copies of these records, although it does have several indexes. You can obtain copies by writing to:

Vital Records
1 West Wilson St.
P. O. Box 309
Madison, WI 53701-0309
Telephone:  608-266-1372
Internet: Wisconsin Vital Records

State your relationship to the individual for whom you want information and the reason you want the information.

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. [9]This booklet can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9328. Copies of this booklet are at the Family History Library and many Family History Centers.

Local Copies of Vital Records

County registrars also maintain copies of vital records. Copies may be obtained from either a local registrar or the state Department of Health Services.

Adoption Records

open / closed / state statues

Marriage Records

Before statewide registration, individual counties recorded marriages. You can obtain copies by writing to the register of deeds or the Bureau of Health Statistics (see address above). Some records, particularly those from Brown, Crawford, Dodge, and Jefferson counties, begin as early as the 1820's.

Search the Wisconsin Genealogy Index for pre 1907 birth marriage and death references.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many of the existing pre-1907 marriage records. Some counties have early marriage records which are not on microfilm. For example, Crawford County has marriage records that begin in 1816. The marriage records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under the name of the county. Copies are also available at the Wisconsin Historical Society and the area research centers. Beginning about 1852, the marriage records generally give the names of the parents of the bride and groom. By 1881 the form asked for the parents' places of birth.

The index to these records is the Index to Registrations of Marriages, 1852–1907, which list one million names that are alphabetically arranged for counties Adams through Racine. Counties Richland through Wood are not included in the index. [10]Search for variations of the surname when using the index. The Wisconsin Historical Society in Wisconsin also has this index. Also available is Indexes for Wisconsin Marriage Records, 1973–1984. [11]

The Family History Library has three sets of marriage records for Milwaukee County:

  • Register of Deeds marriages 1838-1911 and index 1838-1918. [12]Record come from the Milwaukee County courthouse.
  • Register of Deeds marriage certificates 1836-1876. [13]Records also come from the Milwaukee County courthouse.
  • Marriages 1837-1907 and index 1852-1907. [14]. Records come from the Bureau for Health Statistics (see address above).

After 1907, marriage records from all counties can be obtained from the Bureau for Health Statistics (address above) or from the register of deeds of the appropriate county.

Divorce Records

Divorce proceedings are usually kept by the county clerks and circuit judges. You should contact the county courthouse for information. The Family History Library does not have copies of these records. It does have Wisconsin Center for Health Statistics. Indexes for Wisconsin Divorces, 1965–1984. [15]

Inventory of Vital Records

You can learn more about the history and availability of the records in Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Wisconsin. [16]

Substitute Records

Wisconsin Church Records

Wisconsin Cemetery Records

Wisconsin Census

Wisconsin Newspapers

Wisconsin Periodicals

Wisconsin Military Records

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 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, marriage, death or burial.  A family Bible may have been used to record births, marriages and deaths.
  • Privacy laws may restrict your access to smoe vital records.  Copies of some vital records recoreded in the last 100 years may be uanavailable 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 Wisconsin to locate records filed by the State and then search the name of the county to locate records kept by the  county.

Archives, Libraries and Societies

Wisconsin Archives and Libraries

Wisconsin Societies

References

  1. 160 Family History Library films beginning with film 1306420 and the Registration of Deaths, ca. 1862–1907 (on 68 films beginning with film 1310171.
  2. 38 microfiche, Family History Library fiche 6331478.
  3. 41 fiche, Family History Library fiche 6331476.
  4. 29 fiche, Family History Library fiche 6331472.
  5. Family History Library fiche 6334350–51.
  6. 194 films beginning with film 1011972.
  7. 109 films beginning with film 1013185.
  8. 26 Family History Library films beginning with film 1305612 item 2.
  9. Hyattsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March, 1993; Family History Library 973 V24wv.
  10. 77 microfiche, Family History Library fiche 6331479.
  11. Family History Library fiche 6334468–9.
  12. 83 Family History Library films beginning with film 1013949.
  13. 14 Family History Library films beginning with film 1032378.
  14. 63 Family History Library films beginning with film 1275674 items 2–3
  15. Madison, Wisconsin: State Microfilm Laboratory, ca. 1984. (On 36 Family History Library fiche beginning with 6334470.
  16. Madison, Wisconsin: Historical Records Survey, 1941; Family History Library book 977.5 V23h; film 1036237 item 3.

 

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