Pennsylvania Vital Records
Pennsylvania Vital Records
In Pennsylvania, the Office of Vital Records is in charge of maintaining all state vital records relating to a person’s most important life events. These events can include births, deaths, marriages and divorces. The relevant records include birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, marriage certificates, and divorce registrations. These records are all stored centrally and compiled for statistical analysis.
Divorce records are issued by the government after said divorce is registered. When a married couple legally files for a divorce, and the event occurs, divorce records are filed under state vital records. These documents can include: a divorce certificate, divorce decree, and divorce record. Which documents are available for public viewing and copying varies from state to state. Divorce records can sometimes be stored at a county level, or state level. There were over 32,000 divorces and annulments in Pennsylvania in 2017.
Marriage records are also handed out by government officials after the wedding is registered. Few marriages were recorded before the year 1885 in Pennsylvania. The records that are around before this time can be accessed by looking through church records. Some cities did begin recording marriages from the early 1800s, and most counties began cataloguing these records in 1885. You can request records by contacting the Marriage License Clerk at the County Courthouse of the relevant county. There were over 73,000 marriages in Pennsylvania in 2017.
Birth certificates are issued upon the birth of every child in Pennsylvania. However, the term birth certificate can also refer to a certified copy of the original. A state-wide registration of births was only introduced in 1906, and wasn’t fully complied with until 1915. Despite not needing to be recorded before this point, some county and clerks offices still catalogued records as early as the 1850s. Birth records between 1906 and 1910 are currently kept at the Pennsylvania State Archives. Birth records copies of people above the age of 105 years can be requested by the public. Earlier records can only be requested by relatives, although the public can still view the records. There were over 137,000 births recorded in Pennsylvania in 2017. Birth records cost $20 for a search and copy.
Death records usually refer to the copy of information from a person’s death certificate upon their death. There was a state-wide registration of death records introduced in Pennsylvania in 1906. Before this point, all records were recorded by relatives in town/city/county offices, but this was not a legal requirement. Between the years 1851 and 1855, the state required deaths to be registered in the relevant county of death. Since 1906, county offices have been legally required to collect death records. The Pennsylvania State Records currently hold documents from 1906 to 1965. The public are allowed to request copies of death records for people above the age of 50. Otherwise, copies must be requested by a relative. There were over 130,000 deaths in Pennsylvania in 2016. Death records cost $20 for a search and copy.
Why are these records available to the public?
The Pennsylvania Right to Know Act was established in 1957 by the State Legislature. The point of the act was to allow the public to access records as it is their right. Any record deemed to concern the business of the people, also known as public records, would be accessible upon request by any Pennsylvania resident.