North Carolina Vital Records
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Introduction to Vital RecordsVital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. United States Vital Records has additional research guidance on finding and using vital records. In North Carolina, the county Register of Deeds office houses birth, marriage and death records. The North Carolina State Archives Guide to Research Materials in the North Carolina State Archives: County Records lists which records are available at the State Archives for each county as original records or as microfilmed records. A copy or an extract of most original records after 1913 can be purchased from the county register of deeds of the North Carolina Department of Health.
Vital Records Reference Dates
North Carolina's civil records start the following years:
North Carolina Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online
The following is a list of online resources useful for locating North Carolina Vital Records which consist of births, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Many online resources for North Carolina Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.
Birth records usually give the name and sex of the child; the names, birthplaces, and ages of the parents (with the mother’s maiden name); the occupation of the father; and the number of children born to the mother. Birth records of adopted children may give the birth parents but have frequently been amended to show only the adoptive parents. A year-by-year search of birth records may reveal other children born to a couple.
The county Register of Deeds office maintains vital records and is the first place to search for birth records. Copies requested for genealogical purposes, which are not certified, do not require a notarized signature and the cost is nominal. Certified copies are only available to close family members. Most of the county indexes to births and deaths through the 1960s have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library. Search the FamilySearch Catalog by:
NORTH CAROLINA, [COUNTY]- VITAL RECORDS
In addtion, the North Carolina State Archives holds microfilmed indexes to births for all counties except Wake and Durham counties.
Copies of originial birth records from 1913 to the present are available at the Vital Records office:
Dept. of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources
For Mail requests:
Some NC Registers of Deeds are making their vital records available online.
For up-to-date information about vital records, see:
North Carolina Vital Records Information This site has links to the state vital records office’s Internet site. It also shows their current address, telephone, fax, fees, and years for which records are available. It includes addresses of county vital records offices, and many county genealogical societies and links to related information such as local record searching volunteers.
Do not contact North Carolina Vital Records for births before 1913. Some county registrars have birth records prior to 1913. Contact the respective county Register of Deeds for record availability.
Pre-1913 Birth Records Kept by Cities. The city of Raleigh kept birth records beginning with 1890 and the city of Wilmington from 1904. Raleigh death records begin in 1885 and Wilmington’s begin in 1903.
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
Delayed Birth Certificates
Due to Social Security requirements and other federal acts, many people needed proof of birth. If no birth record was available, they could go to the county where they were born and file a delayed registration of birth. These may be found in county offices of the Register of Deeds. These records may list births from the 1870s to the 1960s. They usually give the exact date of birth, town or city of birth, and often the full names of both parents, as well as the volume and page. The library has microfilm copies of some of these important documents. Search the FamilySearch Catalog by:
NORTH CAROLINA, [COUNTY]- VITAL RECORDS or
NORTH CAROLINA, [COUNTY]- VITAL RECORDS- INDEXES
Still Births Vital Records Section. Death Certificates, 1906–1994; Still Births, 1914–1953; Fetal Deaths, 1960–1974; Index, 1906–1967 has the certificates are arranged by file number or volume number. These births are included in an online index titled North Carolina Deaths and Burials 1898-1994.
A book with birth information about children born out of wedlock is North Carolina Bastardy Bonds by Betty Camin. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 975.6 P2c  Records for 30 counties are included in this book. These bonds are from the time the county was created until about 1880. The original records are at the North Carolina State Archives. The bondsman listed may be the father of the child, the mother or her father, or another party. About 22,000 names are listed.
The counties included in this book are Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Bertie, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Bute, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Chowan, Clay, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Granville, Moore, New Hanover, Rowen, Rutherford, Surry, and Wake.
To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of North Carolina county birth records, click here.
Different types of county marriage records are available in North Carolina in different time periods. In general, the following types of records are available:
FamilySearch Historical Records online databases:
Marriage Records, Early to 1868
From 1669 to 1742, marriages were performed by clergy or civil authorities and were recorded in county records. Few of these records have survived, except for those of Pasquotank FHL Film 19496and Perquimans FHL Films 370661 370662 counties.
From 1741 to 1868, either a publication of banns or the posting of a bond was required before a marriage could take place. These practices are described below:
Banns. The publication of banns was areligious procedure. For three consecutive Sundays, the couple posted in church their written intention to marry. If no objection was voiced, permission to marry was granted by the church. Before 1851 marriages performed by banns were not recorded in public records, so they must be located in church or Bible records. Beginning in 1851 ministers were required to file marriage returns with a clerk in the county.
Bonds. Couples could also obtain a license to marry if the groom posted a bond of 50 pounds in the county where the bride resided. Marriages performed by bonds were recorded in county records. Some of these pre-1868 bonds have survived for about half the counties. Marriage by bonds was discontinued in 1868.
An Index to Marriage Bonds Filed in the North Carolina State Archives. The index refers you to the county of marriage. It contains a brides index and a grooms index. It includes the entire state, except Granville County. This index is available on Ancestry.com ($). Most of these pre-1868 marriage bonds are also listed in the International Genealogical Index available at the Family History Library FHL fiche 6330241 and at each Family History Center and online at FamilySearch.org. Additionally, these records are found on North Carolina Marriages, 1759-1979. Many county marriage records are on microfilm or have been published.
For a fee, the North Carolina State Archives will search the index for you and send you a copy. Instructions are found in Archives Information Circular 15 September 1977. Only the microfiche is circulated to Family History Centers.
Marriage Records after 1868
Marriage records from 1868 to 1962 are kept by the register of deeds in each county. In 1868, new laws made the only official marriage record the county marriage license. Statewide registration of marriages began in 1962. You can write to the Division of Health Services (see address above) to obtain copies of records since January 1962. For records from 1868 to 1962, write to the county register of deeds or the North Carolina State Archives listed in the "Archives and Libraries" section.
County Marriage Records at the Family History Library
The Family History Library has microfilm copies of county marriage records for most counties through the 1950s. From Guilford County, for example, the library has six films of marriage abstracts (1770–1868) and 65 films of marriage licenses (1873–1961). Numerous published sources are also available, such as:
North Carolina birth, marriage, and death records can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under:
Many eloping couples went to Mt.Airy, Surry County, North Carolina to be married and avoid the waiting period between the time of issuing a license and the performance of the marriage.
Statewide registration of deaths began in 1913. Compliance in most counties was reached by 1917. Death records usually give information about the deceased, such as name, age, birth date, state or country of birth (sometimes the city or town), names of the parents (frequently including the maiden name of the mother), and the informant (who may be a close relative). The date and place of death are given. Sometimes burial information, the cause of death, and the names of the physician and mortician are provided. The length of residence in the state or county may also be given.
The best place to obtain a death certificate is from the county Register of Deeds. Uncertified copies of certificates are available without a notarized signature and for a nominal fee. Death indexes give the name of the person, the name of the father (or mother), and the place and date of death and need to be used if the county of death and date of death is not known. Refer to the following indexes:
Original death records 1913–1975 for most counties and indexes for 1913–1979 are available from the North Carolina State Archives. It is less expensive to request a death certificate from the county Register of Deeds. You may order death records from the North Carolina State Archives. Contact them for specific information about ordering records from the Archives. A few delayed death records exist as early as 1909.
Death records 1930 to present are located at North Carolina Vital Records. Request an uncertified copy unless you are requesting own vital record or that of the your spouse, sibling, direct ancestor, direct descendant, stepparent, or stepchild. An uncertified copy gives the same information as a certified copy, but it cannot be used for legal purposes.
Any death records prior to 1913 are located at the county Register of Deeds.
A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:
To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of North Carolina county death records, click here.
Divorce records may provide information about the date and place of marriage, names and ages of children, the cause of the divorce, and terms of settlement. After the American Revolution and through 1827, divorces could be granted by the general assembly, and these records are among the legislative papers at the state archives. The superior court for each county also had jurisdiction over divorce cases beginning in 1814. The Family History Library has very few of these documents. You can write to the superior court clerk at the county courthouse for copies or information. North Carolina Vital Records has divorce records from 1 January 1958 to the present. For records prior to 1958, contact the county clerk of court where the divorce was filed.
Divorce records can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog by using a Place Search under:
As of January 1, 2008, adult adoptees, biological parents, adoptive parents of children under 18, and lineal descendents of deceased adoptees are allowed to seek health information through agencies called Confidential Intermediaries. Additionally, If all parties are consenting, adult adoptees, biological parents and lineal descendents may meet or share identifying information through the services of a Confidential Intermediary.
Adoption records in North Carolina are sealed, by statute, at the time the adoption is finalized and remain closed to the public. However, Confidential Intermediaries have access to adoption records to allow searches on behalf of adult adoptees age 21 and over, biological parents, adoptive parents of children under the age of 18, or lineal descendents of a deceased adoptee. Confidential Intermediaries may share adoptive information when all parties consent.
Non-identifying information and health history from the adoption record can be shared with an adoptee by the approving agency without Confidential Intermediary service. Non-identifying information that may be released includes the date, time of birth, and weight at the time of birth of the adoptee and the reason the adoptee was placed for adoption. In addition, background information about the birth family, including age, nationality, ethnic background, race, religious preference, educational level, general physical description and any other general information may be provided. The health history of the birth parents and other relatives that might have an affect on the adoptee's mental or physical health, which is gathered at the time of the adoption, may be contained in the case record. If an individual desires updated health/social history, this information can be gathered and shared by a Confidential Intermediary upon consent. Non–identifying information about the present circumstances of an adult adoptee can be shared with the adoptee’s adult biological sibling, the guardian of a minor sibling, or the adoptee’s former parent on request.
If a requester is seeking this information and knows which county Department of Social Services or private child-placing agency placed the adoptee for adoption or supervised their adoption, he/she should contact that particular agency in writing and request their non-identifying health and/or social history information, and/or Confidential Intermediary Services. Requesters that do not know which agency was involved, may contact the North Carolina State Division of Social Services at 325 N. Salisbury Street, 2425 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-2425 in writing, with a photocopy I.D., and request this information. The State Office will identify the approving agency and refer the requester for non-identifying information and Confidential Intermediary services if desired. If the approving adoption agency is not providing Confidential Intermediary Services, this agency should refer the requester to another licensed Confidential Intermediary provider.
An adoptee, birth parent, or biological sibling may file a motion with the Clerk of Superior Court of original jurisdiction (county in which adoption proceeding filed) to have the adoptee’s record opened.
For more information see Foster Child Adoption in North Carolina
North Carolina Vital Records Wiki articles:
Burned, Lost, or Missing Records
For a list of record loss in North Carolina counties see: North Carolina Counties with Burned Courthouses
These links will take you to wiki pages describing alternate sources for birth, marriage and death records.
More Online North Carolina Vital Records Links
If you are aware of other online databases, please feel free to add them.