Mississippi Vital Records
This entry was originally written by Kathleen Stanton Hutchison for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
By law, the State of Mississippi was not required to keep birth or death certificates until 1 November 1912. Birth and death records since 1912 have been kept by the Mississippi State Department of Health, Vital Records, P.O. Box 1700, Jackson, MS 39215. The department responds to mail requests; however, the requests must be submitted on the appropriate required form, which can be obtained from the website.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History maintains microfilm copies of marriage records held in the county courthouses. The records held are often sporadic depending upon the years of courthouse fires. The Mississippi Genealogical Society, Survey of Mississippi Courthouses (Jackson, Miss.: the society, 1957), although outdated, provides important holdings information about surviving court records kept in each courthouse. In addition to the marriage records in each county, there is a statewide index listed by groom’s name on microfilm for those marriages prior to 1926. This index includes name of the bride and groom, date marriage took place or when the license was secured, name of the county, and book and page number of the marriage record. Also, some counties have original marriage records indexed by bride’s name. After the Civil War, separate books for African-American marriages were kept, although when looking for any marriage in Mississippi, all marriage volumes in the county should be checked.
Before 1859, divorce proceedings were introduced as private bills in the legislature. References to these are found in Index to Session Acts, an unpublished guide found in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Since 1859, divorce proceedings are filed in the chancery clerk’s office of the county in which the divorce took place. Copies of these later records are not found at the state archives.
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
- Mississippi Birth, Marriage, and Death Records - free up-to-date guide to accessing Mississippi birth, marriage, and death records (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Includes links to FamilySearch vital record databases.