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Massachusetts Vital Records From 1841 - 1925

Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates

Locate Records and Order Copies

This page explains how to find a Massachusetts birth, marriage and or death record between the years of 1841 and 1925.

What about a birth, marriage or death event that occurred after 1925?

What kind of information is in these vital records? Will a marriage record tell me the place of birth of the spouse?

I'm also looking for a birth record from 1810, where can I find that?

My great grandparents were divorced in the 1930's. Can I get a copy of this record?


Black and white shadow image of young man and woman, holding hands, wearing a wedding dress and veil and long tail tux and top hat.

"Massachusetts state law requires town and city clerks to record all birth, marriage and death 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

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 research questions for the archival staff - not to request record copies.


Location of Town or City Copies

Town or City Clerk's Office

Link will take you to a state alphabetical list of town and city clerks, with phone and email addresses.

Caleb D. Kinner (1823-1908) death certificate

State of Massachusetts, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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 1926 and up through the present, there are statewide indexes to these older vital records from 1841 - 1925.

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. No 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 and/or college interns.

The most recent estimate to receive a certificate by mail from the Massachusetts Archives is about 3 - 4 weeks.

Mass Document Retrieval only provides vital record research before 1926 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 State Archives or the town or city clerk's office.

If you are interested in an overall family history project, drop send us an email at services@mass-doc.com for a free quote. We bill on an hourly basis for this type of research and 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 the intended search, including what specific research you have already done.

Researchers at mass-doc.com are not affiliated with the Massachusetts State Archives, nor are we employed by the State of Massachusetts.

Early Massachusetts Vital Records

Researchers should be aware that the majority of vital records from 1841 - 1925 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!


  • Official Massachusetts Vital Record Laws

  • 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.

Order Massachusetts State Certified Birth Certificates 1926 - 2022 Order Massachusetts State Certified Marriage Certificates 1926 to 2018 Order Massachusetts State Certified Death Certificates 1926 - 2022 What information is actually in these records?

How do I order vital records that occurred before 1926?

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