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Please refer to the information to the Statewide Vital Records in West Virginia for current fees and application process.
All but five of West Virginia’s counties were formed before 20 June 1863 when Congress officially admitted it as a sovereign state. Those pre-existing counties were governed by the same laws as other Virginia counties, including the requirement to register births and marriages beginning in 1853. When Virginia counties stopped recording birth and deaths in 1896, most West Virginia counties continued registration until 1900 or later in some locations. Statewide registration of births and deaths began 1 January 1917, but most records dated 1917–20 were destroyed by fire.
Microfilmed records dating from 1853 to 1900 can be searched at the Archives and History Library in Charleston (see [West Virginia Archives, Libraries, and Societies], the Library of Virginia (see Virginia Family History Research) and The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. Certified copies of records from 1920 forward can be obtained for a fee from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Health Statistics Center, 350 Capitol St., Rm. 350, Charleston, WV 25301-3701.
Early Virginia law required church officials to record all marriages in registers, but few of those volumes have survived. Ministers were not required to forward a copy of the marriage entry to civil authorities until 1780. That requirement ended in 1853 with a new law requiring county clerks to issue marriage licenses and keep marriage registers. Before a license could be issued, the parties to be married had to complete a form with the following information: full names, ages, places of birth and residence, proposed marriage date and place, marital status (single or widowed), names of parents, occupation of the groom, and name of the minister.
The FHL has filmed all early county marriage records from those still held by county clerks. The early marriages of some counties have been transcribed and published; they may have found their way into the collections of major genealogical libraries and local libraries in West Virginia. Certified copies of marriage licenses issued from 1 January 1964 can be ordered from the Health Statistics Center (address above). A centralized index dates back to 1921.
County circuit court divorce records can be obtained from the clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the petition was filed.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History has a Vital Research Record Project. The Vital Research Records Project is placing Birth, Death, and Marriage certificates on-line. Users can search the records and view scanned images of the original records. http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_select.aspx
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
West Virginia Birth, Marriage, Divorce along with Death records, generally known as vital records, provide you with specifics about important occasions in your ancestors life. Vital records, generally maintained by a civic authority, can provide you an even more complete picture of your ancestor, make it easier to differentiate involving two people with the same name, and allow you to locate links to a brand new generation. They can include information like the occasion date and place, parents’ names, occupation and residence. The cause of death is also provided in most West Virginia death records.
West Virginia vital records certainly are a cornerstone of West Virginia genealogy and family history research because they were normally recorded at or near the time of the event, making the document more likely to be accurate. This webpage includes links, information and facts that can help you request copies from West Virginia state and county vital records keepers. Vital records (births, deaths, marriages, and divorces) mark the key events of our lives and are the cornerstone of ancestors and family history research.
West Virginia Vital Registration Office, issues, documents, and stores certified copies of vital records including birth, marriage, divorce death certificates for occurrences that took place in West Virginia. To verify current fees and information the telephone number is (304) 558-2931.
Most of the counties in West Virginia were formed by June 20, 1863. Only 5 counties were formed later. The counties that existed at that time were under the same law system as the counties in Virginia. Those laws included the mandatory recording of both marriages and births starting in 1853. In 1896 deaths and births stopped being recorded at the county level in Virginia. However, the practice of recording them at the county level continued in most of West Virginia until at least 1900. Recording of those vital records at the state level started on January 1, 1917. However, most of the records from that year until 1920 were burned in a fire. So, records after 1920 are more likely to be available today.
The Charleston Archives and History Library has copies of vital records from the years of 1853 to 1900 on file on microfilm. Similar records can be found at the Family History Library (FHL) and the Library of Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Health Statistics Center, 350 Capitol St., Rm. 350, Charleston, WV 25301-3701 will provide certified record copies for a fee. However, only certified copies of records dating from 1920 onward are available.
The Charleston Archives and History Library has 1852 to 1930 birth certificates (including delayed registrations) and 1917 to 1973 death certificates on file. So does the FHL in Salt Lake City, Utah. Church officials were required to record marriages in specific marriage registers in Virginia's early days. However, most of those registers have been lost over time. Civil authorities were given copies of records from ministers by law beginning in 1780. However, that only lasted until 1853. At that point, county clerks took over the responsibility of issuing marriage licenses and keeping registers of marriages. Couples wishing to marry had to fill out a form listing all of the following information:
Records still in the possession of county clerks have been placed on microfilm by the FHL. Some early marriage records have also been published or transcribed over the years. Many West Virginia libraries and historical societies have some of those published records on file. The Health Statistics Center has an index of marriage records from 1921 onward. They can provide certified marriage license copies for all licenses issued from 1964 onward.
The clerk of the circuit court in each county holds divorce records for divorces that were granted in that county.