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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Free Birth and Death Certificates?

A Commentator suggested the following post topic; the best resources to get copies of birth and death certificates, free if possible. Now that is a challenging question. My first response would be to show the commentator the Research Wiki. Since there was no specific location mentioned in the suggestion, I can assume that the answer needs to be quite general. The Research Wiki has a Vital Records category for all of the states and every county in the United States and many other countries outside of the U.S. The status of the vital records (i.e. birth, death, marriage) are explained. It is important to note that some (most) states are not giving away their certificates for free. There are a very few states that have free copies of their records available to the public. My state, Arizona, is one of them but only during a very limited period of time, birth records are available online from 1855 to 1937, death records from 1861 to 1962 but it is also important to note that before 1906 very few of these records were kept.

Now, that said, there are a whole bunch of websites that would like you to order vital records through there website so they can make some money providing you with what you can get at the best price directly from the states.

Another thing to know is the birth and death certificates are a relatively new invention. Each state has a date when that type of record is available. Going back to the Research Wiki, you can look up the states you are interested in and see if there is a certificate possible for your ancestors. If not, there is a long list of places to look for alternative birth and death information. The Research Wiki has the answers.


  1. Thanks for this, as an old time researcher, I knew Family Search had filmed the Washington State Birth and Death certificates and indexes, so I always sent people to their Family Search Center to order the film and get copies, but finding the film numbers was always a chore. Now days Family Search lists the film number for deaths when you do a search for them, but births are still fun to find the film number in the catalog.