Texas Vital Records

Texas Vital Records

The Office of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining all state-level vital records created, administered and maintained by the state of Texas regarding a person’s most important life events. These records include such documents as birth certificates, marriage licenses and death certificates and are compiled and stored in a permanent central registry that state entities use to develop statistical analysis of its population.

Birth Records

A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document certifying the birth or to a certified copy or representation of the original document. The state of Texas has developed two periods of collecting the birth records: as early as 1873 and in 1903. In 1873, some cities and towns in Texas authorized the registration of births through the clerk's offices. For a brief period from 1873 to 1876, the county recorders also recorded all birth records that occurred in the county perimeter.

The state of Texas implemented a statewide registration of births requirement beginning in 1903 when the Texas Department of Public Health was established.

Death Records

A death record is most likely a copy of the information contained in a person’s death certificate. The state of Texas recognizes two major periods of collecting and gathering death records. In the 1880s, records were gathered from the clerk's offices, which at that time were entitled to register all birth records that occurred in their county perimeters. Staring from 1903 when the state of Texas implemented a statewide registration requirement of all death records, they were then collected and registered to start in 1903 when the Texas Department of Public Health was created.

Marriage/Divorce Records

A marriage/divorce record is issued by a government official only after civil registration of the marriage/divorce occurs. Prior to 1836, only the Catholic Church could legally solemnize marriages. As a result, much Protestant marriage records are listed in the Catholic records. From 1837 to 1966, the county recorders issued marriage licenses and kept marriage registers. Copies of the records can be obtained by writing to the clerk of the county where the license was issued. For information from 1966 to the present, all marriage records are collected and stored by the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The Family History Library has acquired copies of marriage records from many county courthouses from as early as 1837.

Why Vital Records are Available to the Public?

The Texas Public Information Act is a series of laws incorporated into the Texas Governmental Code that serve to ensure the public is provided access to information held by the state government: Texas State Library. The laws are analogous to the United States Freedom of Information Act, which guarantees accessibility of information held by federal government agencies to the public and aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public.

What Does Vital Records Access mean to You?

The Texas Public Information Act is a series of legislative acts that have been incorporated into the Texas General Code in Title 5, Subchapter A, Subtitle 552. The act is intended to guarantee public access to government information in the interest of providing transparency of the government to the people it governs.

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Texas Hidalgo County Courthouse Building in Hidalgo circa 1886

Texas Hidalgo County Courthouse Building in Hidalgo circa 1886

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