Kentucky Vital Records

Kentucky Vital Records

The Office of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining all state-level vital records created, administered and maintained by the state of Kentucky 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 state entities uses 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 Kentucky manages birth records catalog into three categories based on the period of time the information was collected, which includes the following: prior-1852, 1852-1911 and 1911-present. The birth records from the first category were not recorded by civil authorities. These records were collected from the birth genealogy, history, church registers, and personal papers.  Kentucky law required counties to record births as early as 1852. Unfortunately, this law was repealed in 1862. Registration was again attempted from 1874 to 1879 and sporadically from 1892 to 1910. The Department for Libraries and Archives has the records for 1852 to 1910. Beginning 1 January 1911, the state of Kentucky again required the registration of birth records. Registration was generally complied with by 1917. The Family History Library has birth indexes and death records covering this period.

Death Records

A death record is most likely a copy of the information contained in a person’s death certificate. The state of Kentucky organizes death records catalog into three categories, which includes three periods of recording death records: prior-1852, 1852-1911 and 1911-present. The records in the first category were/ are collected from the church, county, clerks’ offices.  In 1852 the state of Kentucky required death records to be registered, but the law was repealed in 1862. The death records from these two periods are kept at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Beginning with January 1911 the state of Kentucky enacted a law to record all death records. The registration was complied with statewide by the year of 1917. The death records are kept now at the Kentucky Family History Library, which indexed death records form the last category.

Marriage/Divorce Records

A marriage/divorce record is issued by a government official only after civil registration of the marriage/divorce occurs. The earliest marriage records are dating as back as the origin of each county. Marriage records from the earliest dates to the present are kept by the county clerk for each county. A statewide registration was enacted in 1958 by the state of Kentucky. Since 1958, duplicates have been sent to the Office of Vital Statistics.

Why Vital Records are Available to the Public?

In 1976, the Kentucky State Legislature passed a law named the Kentucky Open Records Act. This law was enabled with the last changes in 1994 and aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public: The Kentucky Open Records Act.pdf. Every person throughout the state can request access to access all public records through the assigned specialized offices within its determined terms.

What Does Vital Records Access mean to You?

The law is similar to the Kentucky Open Meetings Act which conducts the methods by which public meetings are conducted at the Kentucky Open Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in the state of Kentucky,  statutes KRS 61.870 to 61.884 define the law.



Kentucky State Archives

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