Background of Arkansas Vital Records
In February of 1914 Arkansas began recording both deaths and births on a statewide level. However, it took nearly 30 years for full compliance to be established. Records beginning in 1914 can be found at the Division of Vital Records, Arkansas Department of Health. The Arkansas History Commission has some records on file for both Fort Smith and Little Rock. However, all requests for information must be accompanied by proof of relationship to the person of interest and a statement of the purpose of the request. Some delayed birth registry records are also on file.
Many newspapers listed deaths. So, newspaper clippings and copies can be a good resource for those interested in death records. Annual Grand Lodge proceeding abstracts and data can also be useful. It has been compiled in Arkansas Genealogical Society’s Masonic Deaths in Arkansas, 1838-1916.
In 1917, Arkansas began recording marriage son a statewide level. However, many marriages were recorded prior to that time, from the point of each county being founded. Marriage records from 1917 onward can be found at the Division of Vital Records. The county clerk’s office in the county of interest should be consulted for earlier records. Researchers should note that most marriages took place in the county where the bride lived, but not all. Early marriage records may include information such as groom and bride names and ages, as well as their residences. More recent records may contain even more data. An index to marriage records from 1933 to 1939 is available on microfiche at the Arkansas History Commission. The listings are arranged alphabetically according to the surnames of the grooms and organized by county where the record was originally filed.
The chancery or circuit clerk in each county can supply certified copies of divorce records. The Division of Vital Records also has records on file, but only from 1923 onward. An index to divorce records for 1923 to 1927 and 1834 to 1939 that were reported to the Arkansas Health Department can be found at the Arkansas History Commission.
The Salt Lake City Family History Library (FHL) has placed many Arkansas vital records on microfilm. The Arkansas History Commission holds copies of those records.