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Vital Records

Vital Records - Introduction

Vital records are birth, marriage, and death records.

The vital records available from each state are different in that each state began to collect vital records at different times. For instance, South Carolina did not begin requiring birth certificates until 1915, so birth information prior to that date must be obtained from other sources, such as newspaper records, church records, family Bibles, correspondence, etc.

Each state has its own laws and fees for obtaining copies of vital records -- check the site below for more information. Where to Write for Vital Records from the U.S. Center for Health Statistics will tell you how to contact each state for its vital records.

Vital Records in Virginia:
A law requiring the systematic statewide recording of births and deaths was passed by the Virginia General Assembly on April 11, 1853. Every commissioner of revenue registered births and deaths in his district annually and forwarded the information to the clerk of court, who then supplied the information to the state Auditor of Public Accounts. This law continued in effect until 1896. The Auditor turned the lists over to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in 1918 and the registers were later transferred to the state archives.

Useful Websites:

National Center for Health Statistics Information page on vital records for all states from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - United States Vital Records Information Website with links to vital records departments of all states.

Virginia Office of Vital Records This is the website for the official Vital Records Office of the Virginia Department of Health. Records should be available for birth, marriage, and death certificates from 1853 to the present.

Guide to Using Vital Statistics Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia The Library of Virginia holds primary source materials that supplement official vital records.

Searching VIRGO for secondary material on vital records

The University Library does not generally collect vital records information. There is some genealogical information of this sort (bibles, newspapers, family records) in the Small Special Collections Library, but it is not collected in a systematic way.

The Library does have some printed books that contain vital records information that has been transcribed from the courthouse records of various counties. To find these records, check under the Library of Congress (LC) subject headings below:

Registers of births, etc.
Marriage records
You can specify the location by state alone, or by state and county or city:

Registers of births, etc.--Virginia--Albemarle County
Marriage records--Virginia--Albemarle County
Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society Library located in the McIntire Building downtown is a better source for this secondary material.