Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Online Vital Records Web Sites

Vital records are necessary to prove parent-child and spousal relationships in every family. Unfortunately, vital records are not available for every state for every year. Many states did not require the recording of births, marriages and deaths until the 20th century.

What are the best web sites to determine if vital records exist, can be obtained online in either index or certificate form, or can be obtained through contact with a state agency? I recommend these sites:

1) Vital Records Information -- http://www.vitalrec.com. This web site has links for each state that describes the records available, and the process to obtain them online or by mail. You can order a certificate online, or through the mail, using this site, but you will pay a charge to VitalRec for the service above the cost of the actual certificate.

A warning: do not click on a link that takes you to a come-on "FREE birth search" or similar - those links take you to a "private investigator" type of site that demands more money to obtain records for you.

2) Vital Records Express Certificate Service -- http://www.vitalchek.com/. This site has links to every state and provides information necessary to order birth, marriage, death and divorce records from the correct state agency. You can order the certificates through this web site, but you pay a fee to VitalChek over and above the actual cost of the certificate.

3. Online Birth and Marriage Databases -- http://home.att.net/~wee-monster/vitalrecords.html . This site has a state-by-state listing of what birth and marriage records are available in online databases. Many of the links go to www.ancestry.com, a subscription web site.

4. Online Death Index Databases -- http://www.deathindexes.com/. This site has a state-by-state listing of what death records are available in online databases. Many of the links go to www.ancestry.com, a subscription site.

Note that there may be vital records indexes online for some states that are not on these last two web sites. There may be indexes available on other commercial web sites (for instance, Massachusetts Vital Records from 1841 to 1910 are available on www.NewEnglandAncestors.org)

If the vital records that you are seeking occurred in your local area, it is always cheaper and faster to go to the local County Clerk and request the vital record. In many states, including California, you can order a birth, marriage or death certificate "for information purposes only" and not have to prove that you are the person, or related to the person, or the attorney or representative of the person.

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