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What Are Vital Records?

Vital records may provide the information necessary to conduct a background search or to answer the many questions individuals have. Vital records are not always available. Many times, this information is kept on file through the state or local towns, but these records were not always readily accessible. In many situations, these records can answer important questions that individuals have, but finding them can prove to be a bit more work than what many think. However, today, every state in the country has a method of collecting the data from the birth, death and marriages of individuals and housing it in a centralized database for the long term.

Vital records are important events that happen in a person’s life. In terms of government collection of information, this will include the birth of an individual, marriages, divorces as well as death information. These records are available in various forms and are generally certificates issued by government agencies as a proof of the event occurring. The gathering and use of these records can be very important for many reasons, including verifying the event took place for legal reasons. They can also be used after death to verify family relations and connections. Because of the importance of the information contained, most states do provide access to these records, but that is not the case in all states.

In states that do not have open records, this indicates that most vital records will be kept closed from public access. The information may only be available to those who can prove a close family relation, such as a spouse, child, sibling or parent. In some states, these records are kept out of the general public arena for a set number of years after they occur and then the records become publically accessible. Most states are open records states meaning they allow access to vital records to the public without requiring any relation to gather the information.

Vital records can be thorough or very basic. The state’s keep a notation of any event in a larger database that is archived. Local townships or counties will keep a more thorough record. This thorough record will likely include information such as the individual’s full name, address and next of kin information. The vital record may also include information related to the event, such as the church an individual was married at or the hospital a person was born in. The information is accessible in this certificate form for legal benefits, too, such as proving a child was born or proving that two people were legally married or divorced in a court of law.

Vital records can provide a great resource of information. In some cases, they can answer questions about who a person was married to, who their children were and where they lived. Vital records are on file for some people dating back to the 1600’s in some areas. Most records were not formally collected, though, by the state until the mid 1900’s. Local townships and county clerk’s offices are the best source for more detailed and older records.

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