Background of Iowa Vital Records
What are Iowa Vital Records – On July 1, 1880 a system of vital record recording was established in Iowa. That occurred at the same time that the State Board of Health was established. Before the establishment of that system, some marriage records and other records were kept in certain counties, but those records were not complete or detailed. For example, death records from before 1904 do not include the parents of the deceased and birth records only contained limited data, such as parent names and date and place of birth.
From 1880 to 1921, about half of all deaths and births in the state were actually recorded, according to educated estimates. However, there was a delayed birth registration provision, which led to about 470,000 birth records being filed at the Bureau of Vital Statistics at later times. Typically, marriage records were recorded from the time that a county was established onward.
All of Iowa’s vital records for each county are available for the public to view personally or request copies of from the district court clerk for the particular county of interest. However, the state’s vital records are not available for public examination. Legal representatives, such as children, parents or legal guardians, however, may request copies of certificates from the state. Any applicant must state why the certificate is required and be able to prove their relationship to the person mentioned on the certificate.
For information about individual county statuses, you must contact the State Historical Society of Iowa. Their State Archives division has made most state vital records that are more than 75 years old available, although there are some limitations on that availability.
Vital records for each county are available through each county’s chapter of the Iowa Genealogical Society and a complete state listing can be obtained from the state society.
There are registrars in each county recorder’s office. They are in charge of maintaining the marriage, birth and death records for each county in the state. However, they do not have code authorization to access the records for the 20-year span between 1921 and 1941.