Massachusetts Vital Records.
Birth, Marriage and Death.
1841 - 1920

 
  • This page explains how to find a Massachusetts birth, marriage and or death record that occurred between the years of 1841 and 1920.
     

  • Please Note!! Vital records from 1916 - 1920 are currently in flux. Access to these years may be temporarily delayed until the records are completely digitized at the Massachusetts Archives. 

  • Frequently Asked Questions:

 


"Massachusetts law requires town and city clerks to record all vital events occurring in that town or city."

This system has been in place for the last 300 odd years. Beginning in 1841, the state government required copies of each vital record be forwarded to a central state office. What this means is basically, two sets of records exist for almost every birth, marriage and death since 1841.

Location of State Copies of Vital Records

Massachusetts Archives
220 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125

Voice: 617.727.2816
FAX:   617.288.8429

E-Mail: archives@sec.state.ma.us

(Use the above e-mail address for basic questions for the archive staff - NOT to requests records!)


Location of Town or City Vital Records

Town or City (this link takes you to a list of cities, with phone and addresses)


Massachusetts Vital Record Research Basics

Researching vital records at the Massachusetts Archives involves a two step process. Much like the Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) records 1921 - 2014, there are statewide indexes to these older vital records from 1841  - 1920.

Most vital records at the Massachusetts Archives are on microfilm. Both certified and microfilmed photocopies are available for purchase. (Certified copies are a typed abstraction of the microfilmed birth, marriage or death register. A microfilmed copy is a photocopy of the original town or city clerk entry into the birth, marriage or death register.)

Hours of the Massachusetts Archives are 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday. Closed on all federal and state holidays. Not longer open Saturdays. Just to be safe, always call ahead.

For more information on additional archival records at the Massachusetts Archives, researchers can read their excellent, extensively detailed on-line brochure entitled, "Researching Your Family History at the Massachusetts Archives".

The Massachusetts archives accepts both mail in requests and walk ins. Telephone orders are not accepted. Out of state researchers should be aware that mail in requests, especially in the summer months, are researched by volunteers or college interns and the most recent estimate to receive a certificate by mail from the Massachusetts Archives is about 3 - 4 weeks.

Please Read!

mass-doc.com researchers are not affiliated with the Massachusetts Archives, nor are we employed by the state of Massachusetts. 

Research staff at mass-doc.com only provide vital record research before 1921 as part of an overall family history project or extended research project. If you're looking for only a single or even a few of these early vital records, you should contact the Massachusetts Archives. 

If you are interested in an overall family history project please send us an email for a quote. We bill on an hourly basis for this type of research but we only take on a few of these projects each month.  

Depending on the complexity of the research project, we average a backlog of about 4 - 6 weeks for complete or partial family history projects, sometimes longer. In your e-mail, please provide as much detail as you can about your intended search. Please be sure and tell us what kind of research you have already completed and with which records you consulted. We certainly don't want to repeat your efforts.

The Early Vital Records

Researchers should be aware that the majority of vital records from 1841 - 1920 are in a register style format. The originals are in many cases badly worn and faded. Quality of microfilm can range from excellent to very poor.

Though still valuable, the information contained in registers is not as detailed as present day vital records. Generally speaking however, these registers provide names, exact dates, residence information, parental information, sometimes with place of birth (state or country) and occupational data.

One small quirk to be aware of is that the state copies of the death registers do not always include the place of burial. This is especially true for the city of Boston. For some odd reason, burial information was not passed along to the state. If you find this to be the case, burial information is recorded at the town or city level. This is available directly from the town or city in which the event occurred. 

Don't let the town clerk tell you that all they have is what the state archives have. Trust us, that's not always the case! Persistence does pay!.


  • Related Massachusetts Vital Record Links

  • General Laws of Massachusetts, Chapter 46: Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths.

  • General Laws of Massachusetts, Chapter 210: Adoption of Children and Change of Name.
     

  • Vital record information for all other states.

 

 

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Contents of Massachusetts Vital Records ] Massachusetts Vital Records From 1635 - 1841 ] [ Massachusetts Vital Records From 1841 - 1920 ] Massachusetts Vital Records From 1921 - 2014 - Order Online! ] Massachusetts Divorce Record Files - Order Online! ]

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