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