The type of detail contained in each Massachusetts birth, marriage, and death record can vary tremendously based on the era and type of record. Learn before you request a record search.
There is no contemporary "State Official" index of birth, marriage, and death records on the internet. Subscribers to ancestry.com can see some birth, marriage and death record indexes on-line and FamilySearch.org has some free indexes and records on-line but these are primarily older records. That information is explained elsewhere on this website.
Find out how to obtain certified birth, marriage, or death records in person or through the mail.
"The majority of vital records in the state, including birth, marriage, divorce and death records, are considered Massachusetts public records and can be viewed and or purchased by anyone."
State law restricts access to some records. Those not accessible to the public include sealed, impounded or restricted records. These can include adoptions, a birth out of wedlock, a marriage under legal age, or any marriage in which one of the spouses was born out of wedlock. There is "about a 100 year old hold" on those type of records."
This policy of "open access" is highly unusual for most states do not allow access for a specified period of time. The neighboring state of Rhode Island for example, does not allow access to death records until 50 years after the event and 100 years for births and marriages.
Massachusetts by far has one of the most complete and preserved collection of vital records of any state in the country. In fact as early as 1841, it was the first state in the country to attempt a statewide centralization of vital records.
For researchers, this is truly a bonanza for if the town, city or even the county is not known, the statewide indexes can be consulted.
|What information is actually in these records?|
|I'm looking for 18th century vital records. How do I find them?|
|Massachusetts City Directory Research|
|Newspapers in Massachusetts - More Than Just Obituary's|
|A Guide to Massachusetts Genealogical Research|
|Massachusetts (Greater Boston) On-site Cemetery Research|
|Directory of Massachusetts Cemeteries|