Florida Vital Records
This entry was originally written by the Florida Pioneer Descendants Certification Program Committee of the Florida State Genealogical Society, Inc. in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
The Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, P.O. Box 210, Jacksonville, FL 32231-0042 has custody of birth and death records filed from January 1917 to the present date, and marriage records from June 1927 to the present date. However, birth records that are within the last one hundred years are not available to the general public. Applications should be submitted on standard forms available at the above address or online at its website.
As an alternative, birth or death certificates can also be ordered from the local county health department. Contact information for each county is available at www.doh.state.fl.us/chdsitelist.htm. Marriage, divorce, or annulment records are kept at the local county courthouse; contact information for county courthouses can be found at http://myfloridacounty.com (see also Florida County Resources).
Indexes to vital records (excluding birth) are available on microfiche and can be found at various libraries throughout Florida and the U.S. For a listing of holdings, visit the Florida State Genealogical Society website. In addition <www.ancestry.com> has some marriage indexes and most of the death indexes.
Birth registration began in 1917, and scattered records from 1865 through 1916 are at the Office of Vital Statistics. Some county health departments have additional records not recorded with the state. For example, Pensacola birth and death records, between 1891 and 1910, are available through The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. To obtain a copy of the record, one of the following criteria must be met: 1) be the child named on the certificate and over eighteen years old; 2) be the parent, guardian, or legal representative of the person named on the certificate; or 3) have a court order.
Delayed birth records are filed many years after the event by the people who did not have an original birth record or certificate. Copies of these delayed birth certificates are available at the Florida State Archives for fourteen counties. Most are available at local county health departments. Generally, the first year of delayed registration began in approximately 1942.
Death records begin about 1877, but the first state law mandating registration of deaths was passed in 1899. Records before 1917 are spotty. It is always best to check with city or county health departments. Some years ago, for example, the St. Augustine Health Department deposited with the local historical society library a number of “death certificates and burial permits” written on scraps of paper, prescription blanks, etc., for the late 1870s and early 1880s. Death records are still issued to anyone paying the required fee, but the cause-of-death section of the original certificate is deemed confidential and will not become public information until fifty years after the death date.
Marriage, divorce, and annulment records filed after 6 June 1927 are available at the Office of Vital Statistics. For records prior to that date, query the clerk of courts in the county where the license or decree was issued. Numerous county marriage records began as early as the 1820s. Copies of marriage license applications are available only from the clerk of courts in the county courthouse. Standard request forms for copies of state-held records are necessary and available as indicated above.
Numerous divorces and resulting name-changes are to be found in currently out-of-print, Names and Abstracts from the Acts of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida, 1822–1845 (Pass-A-Grille Beach, Fla.: William A. and Janet B. Wolfe, 1985).
Florida adoption records are sealed. The original papers are filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the adoption took place. Medical background on the birth family is given to the adoptive family at adoption. It can be obtained by the adoptee at age eighteen from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida’s Adoption Information Center, 4203 Southpoint Boulevard, Jacksonville, Florida 32216.
Since 1982, the Florida Adoption Reunion Registry was established to reunite people affected by adoption. Applications may be obtained from Florida Reunion Registry, 1317 Winewood Boulevard Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0700, or Florida’s Adoption Information Center above. There is a one-time fee.