How long has the US been keeping track of family, marriage and death records?
- ObserverLv 72 months ago
The states maintains vital statistics departments that register and store records on births, deaths, and marriages within the state. Some have records back to revolutionary times and others only have records from when they became a state or later, like Oregon which became a state in 1859.
- Anonymous2 months ago
Probably over I00 year's running would be my guess zxvqp
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- 2 months ago
The US doesn't. States and counties do. Individual counties within the same state started in different years. Most of them were doing it by 1900. Most started with marriage licenses, then added births and deaths later. Most, not all. An accurate answer would be by county within state and have the year they started collecting each kind of record, and would take hours and hours of research. None of us regulars are going to do that for someone who posts as Anonymous and isn't going to award a favorite answer.
People have been recording BMD dates in family Bibles for a long time. The Library of Virginia has copied and digitized a bunch of them. Other state libraries may have done the same.
Some townships, especially in New England, started keeping records well before they were mandated.
Finally, especially in the South, there are gaps where the courthouse burned, either from Union troops wanting to cause trouble, or from other reasons.
To give you an idea, here are the first 10 counties in WV (from a complete list of counties, but I didn't want to give you a wall of text) and what years they have birth records for. The site had marriage and death records too. It is free, at
Barbour: 1833, 1853 - 1919
Berkeley: 1860, 1862 - 1919
Boone: 1822, 1832, 1862, 1865 - 1910 **
Braxton: 1853 - 1862, 1865 - 1919 **
Brooke: 1852 - 1862, 1864 - 1919
Cabell: 1811, 1853 - 1854, 1856, 1864 - 1865, 1867 - 1919 **
Calhoun: 1855 - 1858, 1863, 1865 - 1944 **
Clay: 1858, 1860, 1866 - 1868, 1870 - 1919 **
Doddridge: 1853 - 1919Fayette: 1852, 1861 - 1919
You'll notice gaps around the Civil War in several of them, which I marked with "**".
And, just because a state required BMD data doesn't mean you can access it on-line for free. Even if you can, most counties have limits - typically 50 years - on how many years old a records must be before they release it to the public.
The people saying "forever" or giving you one year across all states are getting down votes because they are wrong. I've been doing genealogy by hand since 1968, and on-line for at least 20 years. I have just under 20,000 individuals in assorted databases. Some have a 20-year span in their birth year and "after yyyy" in their death year because I couldn't find a record.
- MaxiLv 72 months ago
United States: first date is County second date is State·
Delaware1861-63; 1881 1913·
District of Columbia1874·
LouisianaEarly 1800s 1914·
New Jersey1675/1682 1848·
Rhode Island1630s 1853·
West Virginia1853 1917·
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- StephenWeinsteinLv 72 months ago
The U.S. has not. Individual states and local governments do. They typically started about 100-150 years ago, but it varies from state to state.
For African-Americans, birth records go back much farther: Slave owners kept records of the births of slaves, because they were valuable "property".
- GypsyfishLv 72 months ago
Always. You can find records of births, deaths and marriages on Ancestry.com dating from the earliest settlements by colonizers.
- Lisa ALv 72 months ago
Death records have been mandatory since 1909.
- Pearl LLv 72 months ago
- XintharLv 62 months ago
Since I was born and before. Probably since the us Constitution.