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Genealogy Resources: Vital Records

Vital Record Types

What types of documents are considered vital records?

Death

Marriage

Birth

Divorce

Adoption

Supplemental Records

What records can you use when vital records are unavailable?

Family bible

Church - baptism, marriage, funeral

Cemetery

Newspaper - announcements, obituaries

Court - wills, probate, divorce

Government - census, social security

Military - draft registration, service records

Mortality Schedules - census

Central Texas Print Indexes

Looking for Central Texas records?

Click here to browse our collection of Central Texas vital record and supplemental record indexes. These resources include information about McLennan and surrounding counties (Hill, Limestone, Falls, Bell, and Coryell). 

Looking for Central Texas cemetery indexes?

Click here to browse our collection of cemetery indexes for McLennan and surrounding counties (Hill, Limestone, Falls, Bell, and Coryell).

Are you interested in records for a different county?

Click here to search our catalog for resources in other counties and states. Our collection includes resources for a wide range of states focused heavily in the Southeastern United States. Search Tip: use the name of the county as your keyword. (Ex.: Chattahoochee County, Georgia)

Evaluate the Record

Know the difference between Primary and Secondary information.

Primary Secondary
Information recorded at the time of an event by a knowledgeable participant or witness. Information recorded by an informant that did not actually participate or witness the event.

Vital records can contain both types of information. For example, any information about an individual's birth that is recorded on a death certificate is considered secondary information. The only primary information on a document is the information directly related to the specific event that occurred at the time the record was created. 

Genealogy Videos

Learn more about using vital records in your genealogy research by watching our how-to videos. Find other videos from our Building and Researching Your Family Tree, a twelve part beginners' series by clicking here


Vital Records


Supplemental Records

Marriage Records

Marriage Records are the oldest and most widely kept vital record. This makes them one of the most likely records to be found for your ancestors.

Types of marriage records:

  • Intention or Bann – common before 1850 – show intention to marry
  • Marriage Bond – similar to Bann – groom fined if marriage not legal
  • Consent papers – parental consent if bride or groom is underage
  • Marriage record – actual recording of event – county/state record
    • Marriage application and license – permission to wed
    • Returns and registers – evidence that wedding happened
  • Marriage certificate – document kept by couple
  • Minister/Church Register - record maintained by religious officiant or institution

Availability

Laws governing vital records are set on a state by state basis. Different records began in different locations at different times. When looking for state sources online, look for government webpages (ending in .gov). There are a few books that can help you determine what records are available in the places your ancestors lived.

Texas Records

Texas birth certificate become public record after 75 years, and death certificates become public record after 25 years.

Texas officially began recording birth and death records in 1903. Records from the early years of recording can sometimes be difficult to find.

If you have early Texas ancestors, there may be an exception to the rule. Stop by the Genealogy Center to look at the book, Early Texas Birth Records, 1838-1878. McLennan County Birth Records exist for 1873, 1874 and 1875, and are available at the McLennan County Archive.

Local Repositories

McLennan County Archives

The McLennan County Archives houses many early records including McLennan County births in 1873, 1874 and 1875.

McLennan County Health District

The McLennan County Health District holds birth and death records from 1910-present. Note: requirements for access to information and fees for documents vary by type and age of record. 

McLennan County Vital Index

The McLennan County Clerk's office has a database for searching McLennan County marriage, birth, and death records. Note: not all records have been entered into this database.

McLennan County Court Index Search

The McLennan County Clerk's office has an index database for court records including probate (1961-present) and guardianship (1990-present) records.