Alabama Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
- 1 Alabama Birth, Marriage, & Death Records Online
- 2 Introduction to Vital Records
- 3 Birth Records
- 4 Adoption Records
- 5 Marriage Records
- 6 Divorce Records
- 7 Death Records
- 8 Lost / Missing Records
- 9 Tips
- 10 Analyzing Records
- 11 Subtitute Records
- 12 Archives, Libraries & Societies
Alabama Birth, Marriage, & Death Records OnlineEdit
The internet is a powerful tool for locating online Alabama Vital Record Indexes. After locating a person in the index, original records should always be consulted. Very few indexes link to actual images of birth, marriage, death and divorce records. As digitized images become available, links may be found under Alabama Original Vital Record Images Online.
Introduction to Vital RecordsEdit
Alabama Vital Records include birth, marriage, divorce, and death records. Documents recording these important events are commonly referred to as "vital records". A copy or extract of the original record may be obtained by contacting the Alabama Vital Records State Department of Health or the appropriate County Clerk's offices. United States Vital Records offers an overview of vital records in the United States.
Resources for African-American research fall into two periods: pre- and post-Civil War. Post-Civil War research consists of consulting the same record types you would use to research non–African-Americans. Pre-Civil War research consists of consist of slave importation declarations, plantation records, emancipation records, apprenticeship bonds for freedmen, Alabama hiring practices, census records, plantation owners’ family records, church and cemetery records, military records, and Alabama court records.
1881 to 1908
Alabama Counties were requested to register births in 1881. However, the practice of registering births with the county took time to gain acceptance and compliance. Most of these early birth registers do not list the name of the child, but may contain sex, race, place and date of birth, parents, and possibly the physician or midwife attending the birth. Many records are missing, were never created or were destroyed during this time period.
1908 to Present
The State of Alabama did not require the birth registration until 1908. The recording of vital records gradually increased with time and was generally complied with by 1927. If a baby's survival was questioned, a birth certificate may not have been created. Most of the early birth certificates do not list the name of the child, but may contain the sex, race, place and date of birth, parents, and possibly the physician or midwife attending the birth. By the 1920's, it is more common to find the baby's name indicated in the record. Links to some online indexes maybe found at Alabama Vital Records Online. Contact information and instructions for ordering copies of birth certificates may be found at the Alabama Vital Records State Department of Health.
After a legal adoption is completed, Alabama law requires the creation of a new birth certificate. The original birth certificate and evidence of adoption are placed in a "sealed file." The new certificate is then substituted for the original birth certificate in the State Department of Vital Statistics files.
As of August 1, 2000, original birth information became available to adoptees once they reach the age of 19. The law allows all adult adoptees whose original birth certificate and court records were placed in a "sealed file" to obtain a copy of the birth certificate and any other documents held in the file. The birth parent may indicate a preference for 1) unrestricted contact, 2) contact through an intermediary, or 3) no contact. If the birth parent chooses no contact, an Updated Medical History form must be completed and placed in the file. The Alabama Department of Public Health has detailed information on obtaining copies of these sealed birth records.
Before the Statewide registration of marriages in Alabama began in 1936, the Clerk of the Probate Court in each county issued licenses and recorded marriages. The county marriage records usually began within ten years of the creation of the county.
1799 - March 3, 1817 Mississippi Territory
In 1799, when Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory, a law was passed requiring the registration of marriage licenses and bonds. These licenses and bonds were registered in the Orphans Court in the county of the bride's residence. Early Alabama marriage records generally contain the name of bride and groom, name of the presiding official at the marriage and the signatures of two people who posted a marriage bond.
1818 - 1936 Alabama Territory/State
Early Marriage licenses and bonds were registered in the Orphans Court in the County of the bride's residence. In 1844 the Orphans Court was renamed the Probate Court. From 1888 on, bonds were only required if the groom was under the age of 21 or the bride was under the age of 18. The county marriage records usually began within ten years of the creation of the county. Early marriage records may include the names of the bride and groom, date of marriage, bondsmen, and licensed officiant. Later, marriage records may include ages, occupations, and number of previous marriages for each spouse and the parents' names. The Family History Library has microfilms of the county marriage records for most Alabama counties.
1936 - Present
Alabama began keeping Statewide Marriage Records in August of 1936. For marriages prior to this time, contact the Probate Court in county where license was issued.
There are several statewide indexes:
Early Alabama Marriages 1810–1850: Many Continue or End Between 1850 to 1900, a Few Continue Through from 1900–1936. San Antonio, Texas: Family Adventures, 1991. There are indexes for grooms and brides. This same information is published in Early Alabama Marriage Records. These volumes were also published in 1991.
Alabama Marriages Early to 1825: A Research Tool. Bountiful, Utah: Precision Indexing, 1991. Over 6,000 marriages are listed alphabetically with the name of the couple and their date and county of marriage.
Marriage Records [Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina]. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1994. (FHL compact disc Series 9 number 3.) The dates of the records for each county vary. The earliest records begin in 1807 and the latest extend to 1902. HOW CAN THIS BE FOUND OUTSIDE OF THE FHL?
Early marriage records are also included in the Gandrud and Jones Alabama Records Collection (see the "Genealogy" section of this outline).
For current fees and instructions for obtaining copies of the state’s records, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Statewide registration of marriages began in August of 1936. The statewide marriage records are located at the State Department of Public Health / Center for Health Stat.....(see address below). For current fees and instructions for obtaining copies of the state’s records, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The Family History Library has films of the statewide Marriage Certificates for 1936–1992; and an Index for 1936–1959.
Early - 1950 RESOLVE
In the early 1800s, the legislature, the circuit courts, and city courts granted divorces. Divorce records may indicate the date and place of the marriage being dissolved. Alabama divorces were settled or tried in county Chancery Courts until 1915. The state legislature was also empowered to authorize divorce decreesor finalized them?. These early divorce records were published in the Senate and House Journals. In 1915 the chancery courts were merged with the circuit court in each county.
1950 - Present
Statewide Divorce Records for Alabama begin January of 1950. There is an online index for Alabama Divorces for 1950-1959. For divorce records prior to this time, contact the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county where divorce was granted.
Alabama Statewide Deaths 1908-1974 are available on Record Search
The Family History Library has microfilms of statewide Death Records from 1908 to 1974 and Death Indexes from 1908 to 1959 that may be viewed at a nearby Family History Center. Death records: date;and place of death, name of deceased, may include: name of spouse, birth date and place,name of parents,occupation, cause of death, burial place, church affiliation
1908-Present Death Records beginning January of 1908
Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
Alabama. Department of Health (Montgomery, Alabama). Deaths, 1908–1972; Index to Deaths, 1908–1969. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1993.
Alabama Statewide Deaths 1908-1974 are available on Record Search
The county death records specify name, age, gender, race, date, place, and cause of death.
A free internet index and images to the Alabama Statewide Death Certificates can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search website. For a description of the collection see Alabama Statewide Death Certificates
Lost / Missing RecordsEdit
Early vital events may not have been recorded. Some counties may have lost records due to fire, flood, military actions or other events.
SEE Also: Alabama Burned Counties
Burned Counties Research
To learn of lost records search for the particular county you are intereded in.
The list below indicates some of the known record loss for Alabama counties.
(Butler county courthouse burned April 1853,Calhoun rec loss 1861; 1865, Cherokee records burned in 1882, Clay rec loss 1875, Coffee/Elba rec loss 1877, Conecuh rec loss 1868,1875,1885,1895, Coosa rec loss 1900,Covington rec burned 1895,Dale rec los 1895, Escambia rec loss 1868, Fayette rec loss 1866; 1916,Franklin rec burned 1890,Geneva rec loss 1898, Green rec loss 1868, Jackson rec loss 1864, 1920, Jefferson rec loss 1870, Limestoone rec loss 1862, Marengo rec loss 1848, 1965, Marion rec burned 1883, 1887, Mobile rec loss 1823,1840,1872,Monroe burned prior to 1833, rec loss 1832,Pickens rec loss 1864, 1876, Pike rec loss 1830, Randolph rec loss 1896, Sumpter rec loss 1901,Walker rec burned 1865,1877, 1886, 1932)
ADD an INTERACTIVE county map of Alabama showing counties with records loss. LINK to County page.
- The information given on a birth or death certificate is given by an informant. Learn the relationship of the informant to determine accuracy.
- If you are unable to locate a vital records recorded by civil governments; search for a church records of christening, marriage, death or burial. A Family Bible may have been used to record family births, marriages and deaths.
- If you are of African American desent the records for your ancestors may be in separate vital records files with separate indexes.
- Privacy laws restrict access to the records of living individuals, the individual must apply for their records, parents may be permitted to obtain a record for a child.
- If a baby's survival was questioned, a birth certificate may not have been created.
- Church Records
- Federal census: ........1850-1880; 1900-1930......
- Alabama Census ....Alabama had some pre 1850 census that included every name!
- Alabama History for a calendar of events affecting vital records
- Newspapers: obituary, birth and marriage announcements, death notices
- Military Records: pension, elistment
Vital Records are listed in the "Place Search" of the Family History Library Catalog. Search "Alabama" for state level records, and search the name of the county for vital records kept at the county level.
Archives, Libraries & SocietiesEdit
County Historical and Genealogical Societies of Alabama may be a rich resource for additional records and information.