Idaho Vital Records
This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
The registration of births and deaths on the county level in Idaho was not required until 1907. Prior to that time, the only birth and death records were kept by churches, midwives, mortuaries, and physicians. These records are fragmentary at best. The County Resources section below lists those vital records that were available on the county level before mandatory recording.
Beginning in 1907 the state of Idaho required that professional midwives and physicians record births. The registration of deaths was the responsibility of any clergyman, coroner, physician, or undertaker who had cared for the deceased during the last sickness or made arrangements for the burial. This information was reported to the county recorder. The law governing the registration of births and deaths was changed in 1911, at which time the county recorder was relieved of this responsibility. After 1911 all births and deaths were registered directly with the state. The Family History Library (FHL) has most Idaho births and deaths on microfilm from 1907 to 1911.
The first laws in Idaho Territory concerning marriages and divorces were enacted in 1864. The first Territorial Legislative Assembly made provisions for books in which to record certificates issued by the person performing the marriage ceremony as well as contracts made by individuals. Under the law, the marriage contract did not have to be a written contract. If it was a written contract, there was no compulsion about making a public record of it. Although some early Idaho Territorial marriage contracts were recorded, most were not. Pre-1895 records are located in the county courthouses. The FHL has most early and later county marriages on microfilm. An essential research tool for Idaho marriages is the “Western States Historical Marriage Record Index,” which is online at the BrighamYoung University–Idaho website http://abish.byui.edu/specialCollections/fhc/gbsearch.htm. This index covers marriages from the territorial days primarily through the 1930s, although some counties have marriages up through the 1950s represented.
District courts in Idaho were given jurisdiction in divorce cases by an act passed by the first Territorial Legislative Assembly in 1864. Divorce and annulment actions were filed in the district court in the same manner as other civil cases.
Statewide records of Idaho’s birth and death certificates begin in 1911, and marriage and divorce records begin in 1947. These certificates can be obtained by contacting the Vital Statistics Unit, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, 450 W. State St., 1st Floor, Boise, ID 83720-9990 www2.state.id.us/dhw/vital_stats/appmenu.htm. The FHL has death indexes (1911–50) and certificates (1911–37) on microfilm. There is also an online index to all Idaho deaths (1911–50) on the website of the Idaho GenWeb www.rootsweb.com/~idgenweb.
The following vital record databases for Idaho are searchable at Ancestry.com:
- Idaho Marriages, 1842-1996
- Idaho County Free Press, Vital Records, 1886-1903
- Idaho Death Index, 1911-51
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
- Idaho, Births and Christenings, 1856-1965
- Idaho, County Birth and Death Records, 1883-1929
- Idaho, County Marriages, 1864-1950
- Idaho, Marriages, 1878-1898; 1903-1942
- Idaho, Marriage Index, 1947-1961
- Idaho, Divorce Index, 1947-1961
- Idaho, Deaths and Burials, 1907-1965
- Idaho, Death Certificates, 1911-1937
- Idaho Birth, Marriage, and Death Records - free up-to-date guide to accessing Idaho birth, marriage, and death records (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Includes links to FamilySearch vital record databases.
- Idaho Marriages Search Engine - free Idaho marriages search engine that has indexed marriages posted across the web.
- Idaho Obituary and Death Notice Archive - free Idaho obituary archive that has transcribed obits from across the state.
- Idaho Library of Files - free Idaho obituary and data files archive from across the state.