Michigan Vital Records

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United States Gotoarrow.png Michigan Gotoarrow.png Vital 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. A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Michigan 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

Michigan's vital records start the following years:

Births Marriages Deaths
Earliest 1867 County Formation 1867
Statewide Registration 1867 1805 1867
General Compliance 1915 1805 1915

Michigan Birth, Marriage and Death Records Online

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

Birth Records

Early - 1867


County Records of Births and Deaths

County registration of births and deaths in Michigan began in 1867 and was generally complied with by 1915. You can obtain copies of a county record by writing to the county clerk. You can also obtain records of delayed registrations of births for many counties.

It is easy to determine the county where the event occurred, as according to Michigan law, no town or city crosses county lines. Towns or cities can cross township boundaries, however, the individual will be found to be living in either a town or a township, never both, although some may have the same name.

The Family History Library has microfilm copies of these records for most counties. The library's holdings often date to 1913 or later, with indexes to the 1970s. The library has the unindexed birth and death records from Wayne County for 1867 to 1917. They do not include records from the city of Detroit.

Detroit records for births since 1893 and deaths since 1897 may be obtained from:

Detroit Health Department
1151 Taylor Street
Detroit, MI 48202
Telephone: 313-876-4133

State Records of Births and Deaths

  • Death Certificates for free are available in for the years 1897 to 1920
  • GENDIS - Genealogical Death Indexing System - Michigan death records from 1867-1884.

To order Michigan vital records, see the Web site of the Michigan Dept. of Community Health.

The state of Michigan has copies of the counties' vital statistics records. You can write to:

Office of the State Registrar & Center for Health
Michigan Department of Public Health
3423 North Logan Street
P.O. Box 30035
Lansing, MI 48909
Telephone: 517-335-8000; 517-335-8666; 517-335-8655

The current fees for obtaining copies of the state's records are listed in:

  • Where to Write for Vital Records: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces [1]

Copies of this booklet are at the Family History Library and the Family History Centers. You can also write to the Michigan Department of Public Health (address above) for current information.

Statewide indexes to births from 1867 to 1915 and deaths from 1867 to 1914 are at the Library of Michigan. County-wide indexes are listed in:

  • Sourcebook of Michigan Census, County Histories, and Vital Records [2]

Adoption Records

open / closed / state statutes

Marriage Records

An 1805 law required registration of marriages with the clerk of the local district court. Most counties kept marriage records from the date the county was created. You can obtain copies from the county clerk's office.

An 1867 law required the counties to send copies of the records to the Office of the State Registrar (see address above). Licenses were not required until 1887. The Family History Library has marriage records for most counties, from county creation to 1920 or later, and some indexes to the 1950s or later.

Divorce Records

The earliest records of divorce were recorded in the supreme court. Later divorce papers are usually kept by the clerk of the circuit, chancery, or county court. The Family History Library has few divorce records for Michigan. Many divorce and other vital records have been abstracted and published in genealogical periodicals.

Death Records

Early - 1867

1867 - Present

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 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. 
  • 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.

Lost or Missing Records


  • Information listed on vital arecords is given by an informant. Learn the relationsip of the informant to the subjdect(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 a 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 of African Americans may be recorded in separtate 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 unavailable to anyone except a direct relative.
  • Search for Vital Records in the Fmaily History Library Catalog by using a Place Search and then choosing Vital Records. Search for Michigan to locate records filed by the the State and then search the name of the county to locate records kept by the county

Family History Library

Birth, marriage, death, and coroner’s records and indexes for most Michigan counties are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

  • Sourcebook of Michigan census, county histories, and vital records [3]


  1. Where to Write for Vital Records: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Divorces. Hyattsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 1993.
  2. Callard, Carole, ed. Sourcebook of Michigan Census, County Histories, and Vital Records. Lansing, Michigan: Library of Michigan, 1986. (Family History Library book 977.4 A3sm; fiche 6101261.)
  3. Family History Library book FHL 977.4 A3sm Family Hisotry Library fiche FHL 6101261)