Vital Records

“Vital records” is a term used to broadly describe documents such as birth certificates, death records, marriage licenses, divorce records, naturalization, adoption and land records.  Obtaining copies of these documents can be quite a unique process because the process will vary greatly from city to city.  A portion of these documents will be available through online resources but a trip to the Library, city office or historical society may be inevitable.

I recommend doing some homework prior to conducting vital record research because each city and each document type can be unique.  It is not uncommon to find differences based on date range as well.  For example, you may find marriage records from one date range available at a library and newer marriage records may be housed at city hall.  Best recommendation is call ahead.  Use the web based research to find a local connection and then call them and verify if the date range and document type are housed at their location.

Website information can be stale or outright incorrect so calling or emailing to confirm has value. By doing this pre-work, you are less likely to be disappointedand find that your particular document is located at some other location.

The diversity in types of vital records and access methods …..

State level

These site have list of state wide vital record information.

County Level

In many instances the official county office houses certain vital records.  AncestryPaths has made finding a local county office much easier through their visual access google map application.

City Level

My experience has been that local libraries are the best starting point for information on city level vital records.  You can always try going to a particular city or municipality website for information but the local library likely has more comprehensive information.

AncestryPaths has made finding a local library much easier through their visual access google map application.

Genealogy & Historical Societies

The most concise local information can always be found by contacting someone in a genealogy or historical society.  These folks know the area and know where all the information is housed.  I am always amazed at how helpful and insightful these folks can be who often volunteer their time and effort.

AncestryPaths has made finding a local genealogy and historical societies much easier through their visual access google map application.