Tennessee Vital Records Research Guide
Tennessee Birth, Marriage, Divorce and Death records, also referred to as vital records, produce information about important occasions in your ancestors life. Vital records, normally held by a civic office, can give a person a far more comprehensive picture of your ancestor, enable you to differentiate between two people utilizing the same name, and assist you to find links to a new generation. They could comprise of information like the occurrence date and place, parents’ names, profession and residence. The cause of death is also provided in most Tennessee death records.
Tennessee vital records certainly are a foundation of Tennessee ancestors and family history research simply because they were usually recorded at or near the time of the event, making the record more likely to be correct. This page contains links, information and facts that can help you obtain copies from Tennessee state and county vital records keepers. Vital records (births, deaths, marriages, and divorces) mark the milestones of our lives and are the foundation of family history research.
Tennessee Vital Records Office, issues, documents, and stores certified copies of vital records including birth, marriage, divorce death certificates for occurrences that took place in Tennessee. To verify current fees and information the telephone number is (615) 741-1763.
- Ordering Tennessee Birth Certificates: The State Vital Records Office has birth records from January 1914 to present, also for Nashville since June 1881, for Knoxville since July 1881, and for Chattanooga since January 1882, Birth enumeration records by school district are available for July 1908 through June 1912. The fee for all certified copy are $15 (long form) and $8 (short form), additional copies of the same record requested at the same time are $5.00 each. For birth records over 100 years old are located at the Tennessee State Library and Archives for public access and family research, See Below.
- Ordering Tennessee Marriage, Divorce and Death Certificates: The State Vital Records Office has records for the past 50 years to present. The fee for all certified copy are $15 (marriage and divorce) and $7 (death), additional copies of the same record requested at the same time are $5.00 each. For marriage, divorce and death records over 50 years old are located at the Tennessee State Library and Archives for public access and family research, See Below. Copies of the marriage records are available from the County Clerk in the county where the license was issued. Divorces are also available from the Clerk of Courts in the county where the divorce was granted.
How to Order Tennessee Vital Records
- Physical and Mailing Address: Tennessee Office of Vital Records, 1st Floor, Central Services Building, 421 Fifth Avenue, North, Nashville, TN 37243; PH: 615-741-1763. All mail orders should include a Personal check or money order made payable to Tennessee Vital Records. Do not send cash.
- Website Address: http://health.state.tn.us/
- Ordering Vital Records Online – get the certificates within 2-5 days with a credit or debit card from USAVital.com or VitalChek.com
- Ordering Vital Records by Mail: You can download an application online for Tennessee Birth Certificate , Marriage Certificate , Divorce Certificate , Death Certificate Applications. Please allow up to 4-6 weeks for processing of all type of certificates ordered through the mail.
Other Tennessee Applications and Downloads
Birth, Death, Divorce and Marriage Records at the TN State Library and Archives
Beginning in 1881 some counties maintained birth and death records. A few continued for a longer period. These original records are housed in the county courthouses with many microfilm copies at the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the FHL. Tennessee State Library and Archives have the following records:
- Physical and Mailing Address: 403 7th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37243; Phone:(615) 741-2764.
- Website Address: http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/
- Birth Records & “Delayed” Birth Certificates. Tennessee began keeping birth records statewide in 1908. TSLA has statewide birth records for the years 1908-1912 and also has “delayed” birth certificates for persons born 1869 – 1903.
- Death Records. Tennessee began keeping death records statewide in 1908. TSLA has statewide death records for the years 1908-1912 and 1914-1955.
of Tennessee Vital Records
Deaths and births were recorded on a statewide level several times, but not consistently until 1908. Even then, some areas didn’t comply. A new law was created in 1914. That law required that marriages, deaths, and births all be registered with the state. However, it took until 1920 for full compliance to take place. The Tennessee Office of Vital Records can supply divorce and marriage records for the last 50 years, as well as birth records for the last century. The Tennessee State Library and Archives holds many of the earlier records, although some are still located in county offices.
Some counties started recording deaths and births as early as 1881. A few county records even go back earlier than that. The county courthouses hold those records still, although the Salt Lake City Family History Library (FHL) and the Tennessee State Library and Archives each have some records available on microfilm.
The Division of Vital Records in Nashville has the birth records for Chattanooga from January 1882, Nashville from June 1881, and Knoxville from July 1881 on file. However, the records are not complete. Records are also available for Memphis from April 1, 1874 to December of 1887, as well as from November 1, 1898 to January 1, 1914. They can be found at the Health Department, Division of Vital Statistics for Memphis-Shelby County.
Early Nashville death records go back to July 1874, but they were not consistently recorded. The same goes for records from Knoxville (going back to July 1, 1887) and records for Chattanooga (going back to March 6, 1872. The Nashville Vital Records Office has all of those records on file. There are also some death records available for Memphis. They go back to May 1, 1848. They can be found at the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department in their Shelby County Archives.
A death register that spans 1908 to 1912 can be found at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. However, it does not include names of parents. They TSLA website can also supply a partial index of those records. A Nashville newspaper death notice index is also available.
Before Tennessee became a state, marriages were recorded on the county level as far back as 1778. Some, such as the Green County records, go back even longer than that. Some Green County records go back to 1780. Other county records go back to the following years: Washington (1787), Hawkins (1789), Carter (1790), Jefferson and Knox (1792), Blount (1795)
It took until 1815 for a state law to be passed that required marriages to be registered. In 1838 a new law stated that they needed to be recorded in “wellbound books.” From 1839 to 1919 it was common to record both marriage bonds and licenses. Marriage records from the 1880s onward included extra information. That information included groom and bride names, marriage and licenses dates, birthplaces, ages, residences, occupation of the groom, and more.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives has most of the early Tennessee marriage records on file. They are organized according to county. TSLA and the FHL each have many county records available on microfilm. Some can be accessed through inter-library loan. Several early marriage records from the state were coped by the Works Project Administration (WPA). Those can be found at the FHL, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, certain county offices, and in Ft. Wayne, Indiana at the Allen County Public Library.
Record transcripts are not always accurate. So, researchers should view the original records whenever possible. The Tennessee State Library and Archives has both microfilmed copies of transcripts and indexes to marriage notices from Nashville newspapers on file, along with other indexes of Tennessee marriage records.
The General assembly alone granted divorces before 1834. The legislative papers hold those records. Courts were authorized to grant divorces by the 1834 state constitution. Each county’s circuit court offices generally contain those records. However, the Tennessee Office of Vital Records holds the records from the last 50 years.
Searchable Tennessee Databases and other Helpful LinksSource: www.raogk.org