The Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health holds Delaware’s vital records in their Office of Vital Statistics. The birth records held there begin in 1931 and the death and marriage records begin in 1963. A birth record becomes public after 72 years and a marriage or death record becomes public after 40 years. At that point in time, the Delaware Public Archives takes control of those records.
Currently, the Delaware Public Archives holds records from 1861 to 1863 for both births and deaths. They also hold death records from 1881 to 1962 and birth records for 1881 to 1930. The marriage records held at the archives date from1847 to 1962. Every January, the Delaware Public Archives receives one more year of records from the Office of Vital Statistics.
The registrar of vital statistics kept the records for Wilmington, Delaware from 1881 onward. However, the Delaware Public Archives holds the earlier records. In other parts of the state, records were not kept well by the county deed recorders until 1913, when the vital statistics office was created. Records from records of deeds for marriages (1847-1913) and births and deaths (1861-1863, 1881-1913) are housed in the Delaware Public Archives, but they are not complete. Marriage bonds from clerks of the peace are also at the archives. They cover 1744 to 1913, when the practice of marriage bonds was discontinued. However, the records prior to 1793 are not as complete.
There are indexes on file at the Delaware Public Archives for deaths, births, marriages and baptisms from 1680 to the present day. They have been compiled from newspapers, Bibles, church records and other sources. Some deaths from 1888 to 1910 have also been compiled in a supplemental index.
From 1832 to 1975, county superior courts handled divorces. The Delaware Public Archives has some of them on file, but the court must give permission to anyone who wants to view them. Records more current than that are held in whatever county family court granted the divorce. The governor and council handled divorces up until 1773. Then the legislature took over the handling of divorces. The Laws of Delaware, 2-20 (1777-1897) lists divorce indexes as private acts. All annulments and divorces from 1913 onward are on file with the registrar for the state.