District of Columbia Vital Records

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  District of Columbia  Gotoarrow.png  Vital Records

District of Columbia Birth, Marriage and Death Records

Introduction to Vital Records

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.

Vital Records Collage.JPG

Vital Records Reference Dates

The District of Columbia's civil records start the following years:

Birth Marriage Death
Earliest 1872 1811 1855
Statewide Registration 1874 1811 1855*
  • Death records do not exist for the Civil War years 1861-1865.

District of Columbia Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online

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

Birth and Death Records 

Registration of vital statistics began in 1874 for the District of Columbia and was generally complied with by 1915 for births and 1880 for deaths. You can obtain copies of these records by writing to:

Department of Human Services
Vital Records Division
800 9th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20024
Telephone: 202-645-5962
Internet: Department of Health

Birth records more than 100 years old and death records more than 50 years old are considered public record and no approval is needed for requested records. The current fees for obtaining copies of the District's birth and death records are found at the DC Dept. of Health online.

Some earlier records of deaths exist from 1855-1860, and 1865-1949. They can be obtained from the above address. The Family History Library has copies of some of the District's births, 1874-1897 starting on film FHL 2020343. Deaths for 1855-1949 begin on film FHL 1994618.

District of Columbia Marriage Records (10-0099) Example 3 DGS 4258975 534.jpg
Marriage Records

Registration of marriages began in 1811. Some of the early marriages for the years 1811 to 1858 have been transcribed by the DAR and are on microfilm at the Family History Library FHL 845766. Easier-to-use versions of these records include:

  • DC marriage records 1811-1950; indexes, 1811-1986 FHL 2079252
  • Alexandria (DC) marriage certificates returned 1801-1850 FHL 1902941 item 3
  • DC marriage registers 1811-1870 FHL 975.3 V28p
  • DC marriage returns, 1874-1902, 1907-1923; consents, 1896-Dec. 1950 FHL 2070925
  • DC newspaper marriage notices 1800-1850 FHL 929472

You can obtain marriage records from 1811 to the present by writing to:

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Marriage License Bureau
500 Indiana Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: 202-879-4840
Internet: District of Columbia Courts

Divorce Records

Divorce proceedings prior to September 1956 are available from:

Clerk of the U.S. District Court
3rd and Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: 202-273-0555
Internet: United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Some of the early divorce records are at the National Archives. Divorce documents filed since 1956 are at:

Clerk of the Superior Court
Family Division
500 Indiana Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: 202-879-1418
Internet: Clerk of the Superior Court

The old divorce docket, 1803 to 1848, is in four volumes at the National Archives in Suitland, Maryland. The Family History Library has no District of Columbia divorce records.

Adoption Records

Additional Helps


Research Guides

Lost and Missing Records

Death records 1861-1865, the Civil War years, are missing.

Substitute Records

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: 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. 
  • 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 Family History Library catalog.

More District of Columbia Vital Records Online Links

USGenweb.org site for Washington D.C. or District of Columbia - Free

Progenealogists Links for the United States. Press Ctrl + F on the keyboard to search for District of Columbia or DC - Free/ ($)

Vitalcheck.com ($) Express ordering of vital record certificates

Family History Library District of Columbia Vital Records Collections

This is a collection of Family History Library records which are abstracted, indexed and titled the District of Columbia Vital Records Index. For over 30 years, volunteer indexers extracted this information from microfilm copies of the original records. In 1998, a few of the entries were published on 7 CDs by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the "North America Vital Records Index." This index is an index of the births, marriages, and deaths throughout Kentucky. The index is not necessarily complete for any particular place or region.

These records are availble online for free at FamilySearch Historical Records Collection.