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Vital Records


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Vital records most commonly refer to records such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses divorce decrees, wills, and the like. These records are created by local authorities and with possible exceptions for events overseas, in the military, or in the District of Columbia. They are not considered Federal records; therefore they are not held by NARA.
The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics website tells how to obtain birth, death, marriage, and divorce records from state and territorial agencies.

NARA Related Resources

Information collected in Census Records may help you to find which jurisdiction you will want to look for vital records in. For instance, if you find your ancestor's state of birth and approximate year of birth are reported in the census, you can then contact that local jurisdiction regarding their birth records. Certain census years (1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880) also had mortality schedules (1890-1900 were unfortunately destroyed), so you may find someone's death reported if it occurred in the year leading up to the census.

Marriage Registers of Freedman, an article from Prologue
This article describes the marriage records available for freed slaves and other records about slave families. These records are an invaluable source for African-American family history. See links to more resources on African-American Research.

Births, deaths, and marriages of American citizens overseas

Casualty lists from the U.S. military:

External Web Sites with Related Information