Missouri Vital Records

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This entry was originally written by Marsha Hoffman Rising CG, FUGA, FASG, and Pamela Boyer Porter, CGRS, CGL for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Missouri Family History Research series.
History of Missouri
Missouri Vital Records
Census Records for Missouri
Background Sources for Missouri
Missouri Maps
Missouri Land Records
Missouri Probate Records
Missouri Court Records
Missouri Tax Records
Missouri Cemetery Records
Missouri Church Records
Missouri Military Records
Missouri Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Missouri Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Missouri Territorial Records
African Americans of Missouri
Missouri County Resources
Map of Missouri

No vital records were kept on the state level before 16 August 1909. For those filed after that date, requests should be made to Missouri Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102. The 2004 fee for these records was $10. Applications for copies of birth or death certifications can be downloaded from the Missouri Vital Records website at www.dhss.mo.gov/BirthAndDeathRecords/applications.html.

A non-compulsory birth registration law was adopted in Missouri in 1863 and provided that county recorders of deeds could record births upon request. These births are recorded in the regular deed books (or in marriage books) and are not indexed. Registration was sporadic.

In the city of St. Louis, deaths were recorded from 1850'1910 and births from 12 July 1870 through 1910. It is estimated that only about 60 percent of the births and deaths that occurred during this period were recorded. These St. Louis City birth and death registers have been microfilmed and are available through Missouri State Archives. Certified birth or death certificates from 1870 to the present in the City of St. Louis can be requested by writing to St. Louis City Vital Records/Recorder of Deeds, City Hall, Room 126, 1200 Market St., St. Louis, MO 63103. Request forms are available for download from www.stlouis.missouri.org/citygov/recorder/vitalrecords.html. The fee in 2004 was $10. Kansas City also has intermittent early birth and death records (1874'1910). The 2004 fee was $3 per search and $3 per copy, and the address for inquiry is Kansas City Vital Records, 2400 Troost Ave., Ste. 1200, Kansas City, MO 64108. For more information, see the website at www.kcmo.org/CKCMO/Depts/Health/BirthDeathCertificates/index.htm.

In 1883 Missouri passed a state law requiring the recording of births and deaths at the county level. Ten years later this law was inadvertently repealed. At any rate, compliance was poor. Most counties do have these registers, but there is enormous variation as to how complete and/or comprehensive they are. 'A Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Missouri' (deaths) was published in the Missouri State Genealogical Association Journal in the fall issue of 1984. The Historical Records Survey, Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Missouri (St. Louis: Historical Records Survey, 1941), will also aid the researcher.

The ongoing volunteer Missouri Birth and Death Records Database project abstracts births, stillbirths, and deaths recorded before 1909 and places them online at http://sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/birthdeath/. Many of these records are also available on microfilm through Missouri State Archives (see Archives, Libraries, and Societies) and the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City.

Some indexes or abstracts of Missouri vital records, including St. Louis death records (1850'1908), are online at Ancestry.com (see page 17). Many of these early county vital records have been microfilmed and are available through the Missouri State Archives or the FHL.

Marriage records are held by the county recorder of deeds. Prior to 26 June 1881, no marriage license was required; the marriage was recorded at any convenient courthouse. Divorce records are held by the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the divorce occurred, except in the City of St. Louis, where they are held by the City Circuit Court Clerk, Civil Courts Building, 10 N. Tucker Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63101; and in Kansas City by the Civil Records Department, Jackson County Courthouse, 415 E. 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

Certified statements of marriage or dissolution of marriage from 1 July 1948 to the present can be ordered from the Bureau of Vital Records, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102. The $10 fee includes a search for one five-year period. For more information see the bureau's website (address above). Certified copies of marriage or divorce records can be obtained only from the appropriate recorder of deeds or circuit clerk office.

FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:

External Links

  • Missouri Digital Heritage - More than 9 million records can be accessed through Missouri Digital Heritage, including the collections of the Missouri State Archives, the Missouri State Library and other institutions from across the state. This is a free search and results can be downloaded.