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Alabama Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

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United States > U.S. Vital Records > Alabama > Alabama Birth, Marriage, & Death Records

Alabama Birth, Marriage, & Death Records Online[edit | edit source]

Alabama Vital Records Online Links[edit | edit source]

After locating a person in the Alabama Vital Record Indexes, original records should always be consulted. Very few digitized images of originals are available online. 

Introduction to Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Alabama Vital Records include birth, marriage, divorce, and death registers, certificates, and documents. A copy or extract of the original record may be purchased from the Alabama Vital Records State Department of Health or the County Clerk's office where the event occurred. An overview of United States Vital Records offers additional insight into researching vital records in general.

African American Research [edit | edit source]

African-American research in Alabama falls into two periods: pre- and post-Civil War. Post-Civil War research consists of the same record used to research non–African-Americans. Pre-Civil War slavery research consists of slave importation declarations, plantation records, emancipation records, apprenticeship bonds for freedmen, census records, plantation owners’ family records, church records, cemetery records, military records, probate and court records.

Birth Records[edit | edit source]

1881 to 1908   **make chart showing details of information that can be found on the record at various time periods**

Alabama requested registration of births at the county level in 1881. However, most counties were slow to comply. These early birth registers usually 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 birth registration at the state level until 1908. The recording of vital records gradually increased with time and was generally complied with by 1927. Most of the early birth registers and 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 was more common to find the child's name in the record. Some sources for online indexes is at Alabama Vital Records OnlineAlabama Vital Records State Department of Health has instructions for ordering copies of birth certificates.

Adoption Records[edit | edit source]

  • make chart showing details of information that can be found on the record at various time periods**

Adoption Research. 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 records 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.

Marriage Records[edit | edit source]

  • Put information on each record in chart with check marks for information at different time periods**

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. These films may be ordered and viewed at a nearby Family History Center.

1936 - Present 

Alabama began keeping statewide Marriage Records in August of 1936. For current fees and instructions for obtaining copies of the state’s records, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health. For marriages prior to 1936, contact the Probate Court in the County where license was issued. The Family History Library has films of the statewide Marriage Certificates for 1936–1992; and an Index for 1936–1959 that may be ordered and viewed at a nearby Family History Center.

There are a number of books with Statewide Indexes to Alabama marriages in the FHL collection that may be viewed at the FHL or borrowed from other libraries through interlibrary loan. 

The Family History Library has films of the statewide Marriage Certificates for 1936–1992; and an Index for 1936–1959.

Alabama Marriage Collection, 1800-1969

Alabama Marriages to 1825

Alabama Marriages, 1809-1920

Divorce Records[edit | edit source]

Early - 1950 

In the early 1800's, the legislature, circuit courts, and city courts granted divorces. Alabama divorces were also settled or tried in county chancery courts until 1915 when the chancery courts were merged with the county circuit court. The state legislature finalized early divorces for a period and these early records were published in the Senate and House Journals.

For divorce records prior to this time, contact the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county where divorce was granted.

1950 - Present 

Statewide Divorce Records for Alabama began January of 1950. There is an online index for Alabama Divorces for 1950-1959.

Death Records[edit | edit source]

January 1908 - Present

  • Alabama VItal Records Online has a number of quick links to death indexes for Alabama.
  • Alabama Statewide Deaths from 1908-1974 are available on Record Search
  • The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is online and contains records of deaths for those who had social security numbers and the death was reported to the United States Social Security Administration. Most records start in 1962, but the file does contain a few records of deaths from 1942 until 1961.

The Alabama Center for Health Statistics began filing death certificates in January of 1908 for persons who died in Alabama. Death Certificates contain personal information on the deceased from an informant, usually a relative. The information was sent to the county, who sent a copy to the state.
Death record information may include: CREATE CHART FOR TYPES OF RECORDS AND TIME PERIOD

  • Date of death
  • Date of burial
  • Birth date of the deceased
  • City, county, and state of death
  • Name and location of the cemetery where buried
  • Country or state and sometimes the town and county of birth for the deceased
  • Country or state and sometimes the town and county of birth for the parents
  • Name of the deceased,
  • Married name of spouse
  • Names of parents, often with maiden surname of the mother
  • Name of the informant, who is often a child or other family member
  • Age of the deceased usually in years, months, and days
  • Sex of the deceased
  • Residence or address of the deceased, often including length of residence and if foreign-born
  • Whether the deceased was single, married, widowed, or divorced at the time of death
  • Occupation of the deceased

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.

Alabama. Department of Health (Montgomery, Alabama). Deaths, 1908–1972; Index to Deaths, 1908–1969. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1993.

Lost / Missing Records[edit | edit source]

Nearly half of the counties in Alabama have had burned courthouses. A number of them have burned several times. Ten Alabama counties have had significant record loss by fire. However, not all records were lost. (Name the 10 counties - see chart below)
Alabama Burned Counties

CREATE links to counties / map showing burned counties

Lost / Missing Records Alabama County Records
County / date of record loss




April 1853

Coffee /

















Pike 1830








1861, 1865




1885, 1895



Franklin 1890














Burned 1882


















Tips[edit | edit source]

  • The information given on a birth or death certificate is given by an informant.  Learn the relationship of the informant to determine the accuracy of the record

  • 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.

  • Check PERSI for your difficult to find family member.

Analyzing Records
[edit | edit source]

Once a vital record is found, the original document may offer more information about the family and clues to futher research than may have been anticipated.

Substitute Records[edit | edit source]

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 & Societies[edit | edit source]

County Historical and Genealogical Societies of Alabama may be a rich resource for additional records and information.


Check to see if these sources have been covered: