Sunday, August 25, 2013

Family Tree Magazine's free Vital Records chart

Family Tree Magazine Vital Records Chart
Vital records are records of life events kept by the authority of a government. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, and death certificates are all considered vital records, and are excellent sources of information about our ancestors' lives. Each US state has laws governing the way vital records are collected and preserved.

Family Tree Magazine recently published a handy chart listing the beginning dates for official records in all 50 US states. The differences by state can be important to understand. For example, New Jersey began keeping official birth records in 1848, but Mississippi didn't begin until 1912. Indiana didn't begin recording marriages officially until 1958. If your ancestor was born in Mississippi in 1902 and married in Indiana in 1930, you will not be able to locate either a birth certificate or a marriage certificate. If she was born in New Jersey in 1850 and married in 1868, you should be able to get copies of both. Some (but not all) vital records for 48 of the 50 states are available digitally at

Family Tree Magazine's Vital Records chart is available for free at Copies are also available in the Williamsburg (VA) Family History Center.

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