Missouri Vital Records

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Missouri Wiki Topics
Missouri flag.png
Beginning Research
Record Types
Missouri Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

Introduction to Missouri Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. United States Vital Records has additional research guidance on researching and using vital records. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Missouri Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred.

Vital Records Collage.JPG

Vital Records Reference Dates[edit | edit source]

Missouri's civil records start the following years:

Birth County Marriages Death
Began when county organized
Statewide Registration 1883-1893, then 1909 1881 1883-1893, then 1909
General Compliance 1927 1881 1911

Brief History of Vital Records in Missouri[edit | edit source]

In 1883, the Missouri General Assembly enacted legislation providing for the Board of Health to have supervision of the statewide registration of births and deaths. This supervision amounted to prescribing “such forms and recommend[ing] such legislation as shall be deemed necessary for a thorough and complete registration of vital and mortuary statistics through the state.” (Laws of the State of Missouri, 1883, page 96/section 7) The State Board of Health was charged with preparing printed forms of certificates of births and deaths; these were to be provided to the clerks of the various counties and it was the duty of the county clerks to furnish the printed forms to the persons required to file birth and death reports.

This law did not make the reporting of all births and deaths mandatory. Due to non-compliance, the General Assembly repealed the statutes relating to the registration of births and deaths in Missouri in 1893.

It was not until 1910 that the General Assembly again provided for the registration of births and deaths on a statewide basis. Approved May 6, 1909, the act was to “provide for the immediate registration of all births and deaths throughout the state of Missouri by means of certificates of births and deaths and burial or removal permits; requiring prompt returns to the central bureau of vital statistics at the capital of the state, as required to be established by the state board of health, and to insure the thorough organization and efficiency of the registration of vital statistics throughout the state, and providing certain penalties” (Laws of the State of Missouri, 1909, page 538). Pursuant to this 1909 law, all births and deaths that occur in Missouri are reported to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The Bureau of Vital Records maintains these birth and death records.

Missouri Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of online resources useful for locating Missouri Vital Records which consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths. Check Missouri Vital Records Online for more information about the resources listed below. Most online resources for Missouri Vital Records are indexes. After locating a person in an index always consult the original record to confirm the information in the index.

Online databases:



Ordering information for Birth, Marriage, Death Certificates:

Additional Websites to other Missouri Databases:

Birth Records[edit | edit source]

Online databases for Missouri Birth Records

County and City Records of Births and Deaths[edit | edit source]

Statewide registration of births and deaths began in 1863, but registration was not compulsory. Missouri has required registration in each county only during the years 1883 to 1893 and since 1909. The state did not achieve 90 percent registration of births until 1927 and of deaths until 1911.

Write to the appropriate county clerk for records before 1910. Those from 1883 to 1893 are also available from the Missouri State Archives.

The Family History Library has copies of most of the existing civil vital records in Missouri from about 1883 to the early 1900s. For example, records of Jefferson County births, stillbirths, and deaths from 1883 to 1892 are available.

State Records of Births and Deaths[edit | edit source]

Online databases for Missouri Birth Records

Although the files are not open for public inspection, you can obtain copies of the state's births and deaths registered after 1 January 1910 by writing to:

Bureau of Vital Records
P.O. Box 570
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0570
Telephone: 314-761-6387 (births)
Telephone: 314-751-6376 (deaths)
Internet: Department of Health and Senior Services Bureau of Vital Records. maintains Missouri birth, death, marriage and divorce records.

The current fees for obtaining copies of the state's records are available at the website of the CDC (Center for Disease Control).  Click here.

Marriage Records[edit | edit source]

Marriage records have been kept by Missouri county clerks from the earliest days of each county. Some records date from the early 1800s when the area was a territory without counties. Statewide registration of marriage began in 1881, and the files are mostly complete after that date. You can obtain copies of these documents from the various county clerks.

The Family History Library has copies of marriage records from each county. These often date to the 1920s. Most pre-1850 marriages in Missouri have been transcribed in publications such as the following:

The Bureau of Vital Records (see address above) has an index to marriage records from July 1948 to the present.

Gretna Greens[edit | edit source]

Death Records[edit | edit source]

Online databases for Missouri Death Records

Missouri State Archives has created the Missouri Digital Heritage Website providing access to death certificates from 1910-1960. Death certificates contain valuable information for family historians and researchers. The Missouri Death Certificate Database, containing death records created after 1910 and over 50 years old, makes that information available online through a searchable index that links to a digitized image of the original death certificate.

The index can be searched by first name and last name, county, and by year and month. Once a name is selected, a digitized image of the original certificate can be retrieved.

This is an ongoing project and additional records will be added as they are transcribed and imaged. If the image of the certificate is not yet available researchers can request a photocopy of the certificate by contacting the Archives Reference Desk . For death certificates less than 50 years old please contact the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records.

Missouri Coroner's Inquest is an abstract of records that have been indexed and are available for online research. The original records are available on microfilm at the Missouri State Archives. The database contains records from various counties, the City of St. Louis, and the St. Louis Medical Examiner.dditional records will be added as they reach seventy-two years of age.

Information Contained:
Case number
Name of deceased
Age or date of birth
Date of death
Cause of death
Location of death

St Louis Missouri Police Officers' Deaths, 1861-1899 These deaths are taken from, St. Louis Board of Commissioner’ Record of Resignations, Reductions, Promotions, and Deaths 1861-1899. The names are listed alphabetically.
Information Given:
Death Date
Cause of Death

Cause of Death[edit | edit source]

  • Causes of Death - use this resource when trying to interpret a disease or medical condition listed on a death record or certificate

Divorce Records[edit | edit source]

Divorce proceedings have been filed with a court of common pleas, a circuit court, or the state legislature. Most divorce records can be obtained by contacting the appropriate circuit court clerk in the county where the plaintiff resided. The Family History Library has some of these court records, which include divorce information. The Bureau of Vital Records has divorce records from 1948 to the present.

  • To access any possible divorce records available through the Family History Library, use the Place-names Search in the FamilySearch Catalog for:

  • A published list of early divorce records is Lois Stanley, Divorces and Separations in Missouri, 1808-1853. FHL Book 977.8 P2sd
    This volume includes notices from newspapers.

Additional Helps[edit | edit source]

Tips[edit | edit source]

  • Information listed on vital records is given by an informant.  Learn the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) of the record.  The closer the relationship of the informant to the subject(s) and whether or not the informant was present at the time of the event can help determine the accuracy of the information found on the record.
  • If you are unable to locate vital records recorded by governments, search for church records of christening, marriage, death or burial.  A family Bible may have been used to record births, marriages and deaths.
  • Records for African Americans may be recorded in separate files with separate indexes.
  • Privacy laws may restrict your access to some vital records.  Copies of some vital records recorded in the last 100 years may be uanavailable to anyone except a direct relative.
  • Search for Vital Records in the FamilySearch Catalog by using a Place Search and then choosing Vital Records.  Search for Missouri to locate records filed by the State and then search the name of the county to locate records kept by the county.

Substitute Records[edit | edit source]

These links will take you to wiki pages describing alternate sources for birth, marriage and death records.

  • Church Records: Depending on the denomination, church records may contain information about birth, marriage and death.
  • Cemetery Records: Cemetery records are a rich source of birth and death information.  These records may also reveal family relationships.
  • Census Records: Census records are a valuable source for birth and marriage information. You may also determine approximate time of death when the individual disappear from the census. This is a good place to begin a search.
  • Newspapers: Besides obituaries, local newspapers may contain birth and marriage announcements and death notices.  Also check newspaper social columns for additional information. 
  • Obituaries: Obituaries found in newspapers can list the age of the deceased, birth date and place, death date and place, and names of living relatives and their residences.
  • Periodicals: Local genealogical and historical societies often publish periodicals which may contain abstracted early birth, marriage and death information.
  • Military Records:  Military pension records can give birth, marriage and death information,  In addtion, soldiers' homes records can included this same information.
  • Probate Records: If no death record exists, probate records may be helpful in estimating when an individual has died. Probate records in the 20th Century often contain the exact death date.
  • History:  Local histories, family histories and biographies can all be sources of birth, marriage and death information. Often this information is found in county-level records or in surname searches of the FamilySearch Catalog.

Lost or Missing Records[edit | edit source]

Barry 1872, Barton 1860, Bates 1861, Bollinger 1866, 1884, Caldwell 1860, 1896, Camden 1902,Cape Girardeau 1870, Chariton 1864, 1973 Christian 1865, Crawford 1873, 1884, Dade 1863, Dallas 1863, 1864, 18867, DeKalb 1864, 1878 Dent 1864, Douglas 1886, Dunklin 1872, Gentry 1885, Greene 1861, Harrison 1874, Hickory 1852, 1881, Holt 1965, Howard 1887, Howell 1866, Jasper 1863, 1883,  McDonald 1863, Maries 1868, Mercer 1898, Montgomery 1864,1901, Morgan 1887, Newton 1862, Oregon during C.W., Osage 1880, Pemiscot 1883, Pike 1864,  Pulaski 1903, Randolph 1880, Reynolds 1872, Saline 1864, Shannon 1863, 1871, 1938, 1893, Stoddard 1864, Taney 1885, Texas 1932, Vernon C.W., Wayne 1854, 1892, Webster 1863, 1881, Wright 1864, 1897

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

To learn more about the history and availability of vital records, see Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Missouri. [3]

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Missouri Deaths and Burials - FamilySearch Historical Records

More Online Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Brooks, Linda Barber. Missouri Marriages to 1850. Three Volumes. St. Louis,Missouri: Ingmire Pub., 1983-. Family History Library book 977.8 V2bm.
  2. Arlene H. Eakle, "Have you searched and searched for a marriage without finding it?" in Genealogy Blog at http://www.arleneeakle.com/wordpress/2007/02/19/have-you-searched-and-searched-for-the-marriage-without-finding-it/ (accessed 8 January 2011).
  3. (St. Louis, Missouri: Historical Records Survey, 1941; Family History Library book 977.8 V23g; film 928021 item 10.