Georgia Vital Records
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This entry was originally written by the Johni Cerny and Robert S. Davis, in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Georgia attempted to require registration of births, marriages, and deaths on a county level in 1875, but the law was repealed in 1876. Some vital records for fourteen Georgia counties for 1875 have been microfilmed and are available at the Georgia Archives (see Georgia Archives, Libraries, and Societies).
In 1919 Georgia law required the registration of all births and deaths in the state. As in many other states, Georgia’s county governments were slow to respond to the new law and most did not comply until 1928. See Georgia Historical Records Survey, Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Georgia (Atlanta: the author, 1941) for the records kept by individual counties. A few major cities required birth and death registration early on:
• Atlanta—births, 1896; deaths, 1887. Fulton County Health Department, 99 Butler St. S.E., Atlanta, GA 30303.
• Augusta—births, 1823–1896. See Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly (1968): 1988-93
• Savannah—births, 1890; deaths, 1803. Chatham County Health Department, P.O. Box 14257, Savannah, GA 31406. Early death records have been published by the Georgia Historical Society.
• Macon—births, 1891; deaths, 1882. Bibb County Health Department, 171 Emery Hwy., Macon, GA 31201.
• Columbus—births, 1869; deaths, 1890. Muscogee County Health Department, 2100 Comer Ave., Columbus, GA 31902.
• Gainesville—births, 1865; deaths, 1909. Available on microfilm at the Georgia Archives.
Birth and death records in Georgia can be requested from the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Vital Records Unit, Atlanta, Georgia 30334. For urgent requests, certificates can be ordered and paid for by phone with a Visa or MasterCard. There is an additional fee for this service.
As in most other states, marriage records in Georgia are created at the county level. Some Georgia counties kept some marriage bonds before 1805, although Georgia law did not require marriage licenses to be recorded until 1805. Officials were careless in adhering to the law and consequently some marriages were not recorded at all. Some records were also lost in various courthouse fires. All recorded Georgia marriages to 1900 are available on microfilm at the Georgia Archives and the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. The former also has some loose, original county marriage records. Heritage Papers’ periodical Georgia Genealogist contains civil marriages to 1810. Marriages after that date can be found in Mary B. Warren, Georgia Marriages 1811 Through 1820 (Danielsville, Ga.: Heritage Papers, 1988).
From 1793 to 1832, divorces in Georgia were subject to legislative approval after being approved by the county superior court. The divorce files remain in the custody of the county superior courts. Divorces, name changes, and decrees of femme sole (also called feme sole) granted by the Georgia legislature are abstracted in Robert S. Davis Jr., The Georgia Black Book II (Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1987).