In short, certified or transcribed records of most Massachusetts birth, marriage, and death records from as far back as 1926 and up to today's date in 2022, can be ordered directly from this website.
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 yearsafter 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.
Because of that centralization, researchers looking for Massachusetts public records have the good fortune, if they choose, of searching literally two sets of records. Every vital event - birth, marriage or death - must be recorded by the town or city clerk where the event occurred. A copy of this record is then sent to the state recording office. Hence, the two sets of 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.
If the town or city is known, researchers can access records directly from the local town or city clerk's office. This is especially helpful when dealing with a common surname such as Smith, Jones or Brown.
Be aware however, that occasionally not all vital records were forwarded to the state. This was rare, but it did happen. Also, not all information recorded on the vital record was reported to the state. This too is a rare find. To be sure, one should always consult the detail at both locations if there is ever a doubt or question. It's also true that not every vital event was recorded. That's especially true of pre 20th century records.
Though some minor gaps in record locations do exist, the current statewide repository of vital records within the state can be succinctly divided into two main collections, or locations.
Statewide Location Of Vital Records
Each of these collections, or locations, are described in more detail by following the appropriate link. Both locations are based on the date on which the vital record event took place:
**With the new electronic records system, most birth and death records are usually recorded within a few days of the event. Marriage records however can take 9 months or more to be indexed at the Department of Health.
For original records before 1841, your best bet is to contact the city or town in which the event occurred. In addition, each town or city clerk always has and still does, record every vital record in that town - right up through 2022.
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.