Vital records are important in anumber of ways. Below is a list ofeach vital record, what isincluded, and why they are useful.
Birth CertificatesA birth certificate gives a recorded document ofthe day, time, and location of an individual’sbirth. If the birth occurred at a hospital ormedical facility, the birth certificate is usuallyissued by that facility and certified by theattending physician. Otherwise, a standard birthcertificate form can be easily obtained by thestate registrar and certified by adoctor, midwife, doula, or other state-approvedcertifier.
The typical U.S. birth certificate form has beenstandardized by the U.S. Public Health Service, butstates are free to issue their own form. On theform, you will find the following:• Child’s Information – Including name, date and time of birth, sex, city and county of birth, and the specific place of birth (hospital, residence, etc.)• Certifier/Attendant – Must be an approved certifier by the state• Mother’s Information• Father’s Information4• Other Demographic Information – Such as race, pregnancy history, marriage status of mother, etc.
This document is important for a number of reasons.First, the document is kept in the registrar’s office in eachstate for important census information. Also, your certifiedcopy of your birth certificate is used for:• A verifiable source of identification• Obtaining a driver’s license• Obtaining a passport• Obtaining a social security number• Documentation of a family history or genealogy search
Marriage CertificateA marriage license, or marriage certificate, isalso issued and kept at the state level. Thecertificate is a legal documentation of themarriage between two people recognized bythe state as being eligible for marriage.
A marriage certificate is signed by both partiesof the marriage and an efficient, and it is alsofiled with a state government agency, which isusually a registrar or county clerk. Theinformation includes the date and county thatthe marriage took place.
Marriage certificates can be useful for:• Verifying a marital union• Verifying a family history• Obtaining spousal insurance
Divorce RecordsDivorce records are legal documents usuallywritten by attorneys and filed in countycourts. These documents are vital forlegalizing the dissolution of a marriage andstating specific duties by each spouse fordividing marital assets and paying child orspousal support.
There is no standard form for a divorcedocument, since each divorce is unique toeach married couple. Included will be thenames of the parties, when and where themarriage took place, and the date the divorcewas finalized in the court and signed by ajudge. Divorce documents may also containsensitive information such as taxrecords, income records, criminal records, andlists of assets.
Divorce records can be used for:• Determining the divorce status of an individual• Revealing criminal history of an individual• Verifying family history for a genealogy search• Verifying the last known address of an individual
Death CertificateDeath certificates, like birth certificates, arealso important for keeping public health andmorbidity information on file. When a deathoccurs, a certificate of death is issued by acoroner, or other government official. Thecertificate explains the approximatedate, time, location, and cause of death.
Death certificates are important to be used for:• Verifying the death of an individual• Verifying family history or genealogy search• Use in estate probate• Verification of life insurance claim