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One of the cornerstones of family history research, vital records document the key events in our ancestors’ lives and provide critical genealogical information to lead researchers to additional resources and more discoveries.
States began recording vital records at different times and collected different pieces of genealogical information. In Michigan, vital records were recorded at the state level beginning in April 1867. Counties also maintain their own set of vital records, and in some cases, their records predate the state resources; this is especially true for marriage records. In addition, some municipal governments also collected vital records. Bearing that in mind, researchers should be open to looking in several different locations or web sites to find the information they need.
The information collected on Michigan vital records will vary. Be sure to look at Guide No. 19 for more detailed information on what genealogical data was gathered in which year. Here is a table of Michigan state-level birth, marriage, death, and divorce records available onsite at the Archives of Michigan:
State Level Records
|Years||Microfilm at Archives||Online|
|Certificates||1921-1952||Coming soon to Seeking Michigan|
County-level vital records, as held by the County Clerks across the state, are accessible to researchers in many places as well. Here is a table of Michigan county-level birth, marriage and death records available on site at the Archives of Michigan or online.
Records by County
|Years||Microfilm at Archives||Type||Online|
|Gratiot Co.||Not dated||Index|
|Grand Traverse Co.||1867-1960||2127||Index|
|Grand Traverse Co.||1867-1916||2128||Records|
|Grand Traverse Co.||1853-1960||2129||Index|
|Grand Traverse Co.||1853-1933||2130-2131||Records|
|Gratiot Co.||Gratiot Co.||Index|
The Archives also has some collections of municipal vital records, including Dearborn Township, Green Oak Township, and more. Researchers should explore ANSWER using creative searches to find the appropriate collection.
Michigan Divorce Records
In addition to the Michigan state-level divorce summaries outlined above, the Archives of Michigan also holds divorce records from numerous county circuit courts. The dates, formats, and arrangement of these records vary widely. Although complete name indexes do not exist for all counties, researchers may be able to identify a case number by utilizing court calendars and journals. In contrast to the state-level records, county-level divorce files offer the researcher a more complete look into the court’s proceedings and the legal dissolution of the marriage.
Researchers may wish to search in ANSWER, the Archives’ online catalog available at answercat.org. A keyword search using the phrase “[name of county] divorce” or “[name of county] chancery” will yield the largest number of relevant hits. Please contact the Archives for more information or assistance with accessing these records.
Vital records, indexes, and substitute records are available throughout the Abrams Foundation Historical Collection here at the Archives of Michigan. To find additional resources, researchers are encouraged to explore ANSWER; for example, a keyword search using the phrase “hamilton county death*” will yield a number of titles for Hamilton County, Ohio. The asterisk serves as a wildcard, picking up titles with either “death” or “deaths” in the catalog record.
[Alabama] Death Index, 1908-1958. 6 reels. Montgomery, AL: Center for Health Statistics, 1993./Microfilm F 325 .D43 1993/
Allamakee County, Iowa: Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1845-1946. 9 reels. Salt Lake City, UT: Genealogical Society, 1986./Microfilm F 627 .A5 A45 1986/
Arnold, James N. Vital Record of Rhode Island. 21 vols. Providence, RI: Narragansett Historical Pub. Co., 1891./F 78 .A75/
Baptismal and Marriage Registers of the Old Dutch Church of Kingston, Ulster County, New York. New York: DeVinne Press, 1891./F 129 .K5 K5 1980/
Barnes, Robert W., comp. Marriages and Deaths from the Maryland Gazette, 1727-1839. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1973./F 180 .B37/
Bowman, Fred Q. Directory to Collections of New York Vital Records, 1726-1989. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1995./F 118 .B697 1995/
. 10,000 Vital Records of Eastern New York, 1777-1834. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1987./F 118 .B7 1987/
There are similar volumes for central and western New York.
Broglin, Jana Sloan. Lucas County, Ohio, Index to Deaths, 1867-1908. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2003./F 497 .L9 B76 2003/
County Marriage Registers of Ontario, Canada, 1858-1869. 37 vols. Agincourt, Ontario: Generation Press, 1979-1996./CS 88 .O6 C68/
Hamilton County, Ohio, Burial Records. Cincinnati, OH: Hamilton County Chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society, 1984-./F 497 .H2 H36 1984/
This multivolume set covers cemeteries from the Cincinnati area.
Humphrey, John T. Pennsylvania Births, Lancaster County. 2 vols. Washington, DC: Humphrey Books, 1997./F 157 .L2 H85 1997/
Other Pennsylvania counties in this series include Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lebanon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and York.
Illinois Marriage Record Index. 154 microfiche. Springfield, IL: Illinois State Genealogical Society, 1996./Microfiche F 540 .I45 1996/
[Kentucky] Certificates of Death. 478 reels. Frankfort, KY: Kentucky Dept. for Libraries and Archives, 1993-./Microfilm F 450 .D433 1993 /
Covering 1911-1957, the microfiche index is at F 450.D43 1988.
Lane, Joyce I., comp. Jasper & Porter Counties, IN Funeral Home Records, DeMotte & Hebron Areas, 1940-1990. Kokomo, IN: Selby Pub. & Print., 1994./F 532 .J3 L364 1994/
Loiselle, Antonin. Loiselle Card Index to Many Marriages of the Province of Quebec and Adjacent Areas. 1561 microfiche. Montreal, Quebec: A. Loiselle, 1986./Microfiche F 1054.5 .Q3 L64 1986/
Marriage Records of Monroe County, Michigan. Monroe, MI: Genealogical Society of Monroe County, 1988-1992/F 572 .M7 M3 1988/
This society also publishes indexes to Monroe County births & deaths.
Massachusetts Death Index, 1841-1895. 310 microfiche. Oxford, MA: Holbrook Research Institute, 1988./Microfiche F 63 .M373 1988/
Mochel, Edward, comp. Index to St. Louis, Missouri, Marriages. 4 vols. St. Louis, MO: St. Louis Genealogical Society, 1999./F 474 .S3 M63 1999/
[Ontario] Births and Stillbirths Registration. Toronto, Ontario: Archives of Ontario, 1992-./Microfilm F 1058.6 .O572/
Births from 1869-1911.
Pennsylvania Marriages Prior to 1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1987./F 148 .R4 1987/
Smith, Kenneth R., comp. Sandusky County Ohio Index to Marriage Records, 1820-1894. Fremont, OH: Sandusky County Kin Hunters, 2005./F 497 .S2 S63 2005/
State of Georgia Divorce Register. 177 microfiche. Atlanta, GA: Vital Records Service, 1991./Microfiche F 285 .S73/
Years of coverage include 1965-1994.
Thomas, Michelle E., comp. Vital Records of Bangor, Maine. 2 vols. Rockport, ME: Picton Press, 2002-2003/F 29 .B2 T47 2002/
Vital Records of Nantucket, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850. 4 vols. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1925-.F 72 .N2 N126
Works Progress Administration Indexes to Indiana County Vital Records. 68 reels. North Salt Lake, UT: HeritageQuest, 2002./Microfilm F 525 .W67 2002/
Wright, F. Edward. Berks County Church Records of the 18th Century. 4 vols. Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1993-./F 157 .B3 W75 1993/
Available on site at the Archives of Michigan, this subscription database has an impressive collection of vital records indexes and images from across the United States, Canada, and beyond.
Cyndi’s List: U.S. Vital Records
An outstanding starting point for vital records research.
This ever-expanding free website has an impressive array of vital records indexes and images from across the world.
Flint Genealogical Society
Indexes to Genesee County vital records.
Genesee County Clerk
One example of a County Clerk’s online index; other Michigan counties include Calhoun, Grand Traverse, Ingham, Kent, Macomb, Saginaw, and Washtenaw.
Illinois State Archives
Statewide indexes to deaths, 1916-1950.
Kalamazoo Public Library
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How to search Death Records:
You can search for death records by using the “Advanced Search” button in the top right corner of any page.
- Click the “Advanced Search” button in top right corner of screen.
- Select field you wish to search, such as “Given Name,” from “All Fields” drop down menu.
- Type name, county, or year into blank box.
- Click “Search” button.