Montana Vital Records
This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Prior to 1895 there were no legal requirements for keeping birth records in Montana. In 1895 the Legislative Assembly passed a law requiring all physicians and midwives to keep a register of all births. All pre-1907 birth records are filed with the county clerk in the county where the child was born (see Montana County Resources). Montana began recording births and deaths on the state level in 1907. It was not until about 1915 that mandatory registration of births became more complete. By 1922 about 90 percent of the births were being registered.
The 1895 law governing births also pertained to deaths. At that time the registration of deaths was the responsibility of clergymen, coroners, physicians, sextons, and undertakers. Registration of deaths on the state level began in 1907. By 1910 the registration of deaths reached about 90 percent. It was not until about 1915 that the registration of Montana deaths became reasonably complete. Certified copies of birth and death certificates dated 1907 and later can be obtained from the Office of Vital Statistics, Montana Department of Health and Human Services, DPHHS Building, 111 N. Sanders, P.O. Box 4210, Helena, MT 59604-4210. Montana deaths (1954'98) are also indexed at www.ancestry.com.
Marriage and divorce records are not available through the Office of Vital Statistics. These records may be obtained from the clerk of the district court in the county where the license or decree was issued. Divorces were registered on the state level beginning in July 1943. The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City has microfilm copies of county marriages.
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
- Montana, County Births and Deaths, 1840-2004
- Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950
- Montana, Marriages, 1889-1947
- Montana, Death Index, 1860-2007
- Montana Birth, Marriage, and Death Records - free up-to-date guide to accessing Montana birth, marriage, and death records (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Includes links to FamilySearch vital record databases.
- Montana Obituary and Death Notice Archive - free Montana obituary archive that has transcribed obits from across the state.
- Montana Library of Files - free Montana obituary and data files archive from across the state.