West Virginia Vital Records
West Virginia Vital Records
In West Virginia, the Office of Vital Records maintains all state level vital files, which includes records about a person’s key life events. These key life events include births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. The resulting documents relating to said events may include birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, divorce certificates and other divorce records. These key life event records are all stored in one central registry and are used for statistical analysis.
Divorce records relate to the documents issued by government officials upon the registration of a divorce or annulment. Only the Virginia legislature could grant divorces until 1851. Legal separations were granted by the county court. Past 1851, all documents relating to a divorce were stored by the circuit court clerk in the relevant county. When someone files for a divorce or annulment in the State of West Virginia, the documents issued are then stored with other state vital records in one central registry. The divorce-related documents may include divorce certificates, divorce decrees, and other divorce records. It depends on the particular state as to whether these documents can be viewed by the public. Certified copies of records cost $12 for a search, including one copy if the record is found. In 2016, there was a divorce rate of 6.4 per 1,000 inhabitants in West Virginia.
Marriage records are also issued by a government officials after the wedding has been registered. There are marriage records dating back to as early as 1780 in West Virginia. As the years went by, counties began collecting records as they were first organized. A person can access marriage records by writing to the county clerk of the relevant county in which the wedding took place. There are state copies of county records past 1964, and those between 1921 and 1963 are indexed. Records dating back before 1964 are stored at the county clerk’s office wherever the couple applied to be married. Certified copies of records cost $12 for a search, including one copy if the record is found. In 2016, there was a marriage rate of 3.8 per 1,000 inhabitants in West Virginia.
A birth record refers to either the birth certificate created upon the birth of each child in the state, or a certified copy of this certificate. A state-wide registration of birth records was implemented in 1917, and was generally complied with by 1925. This was partly due to a fire in 1921 that destroyed most of the early state-wide records. There were some records dating back before 1917 that were collected from county/clerks’/church registers. The records are collected by the West Virginia Family History Library. Certified copies of records cost $12 for a search, including one copy if the record is found.
Death records usually refer to the information copied from a person’s death certificate upon their passing. West Virginia implemented a state-wide registration of death records in 1917. Before this, records were collected from the relevant county or church registers. Despite the records not being complete, they can be found at the West Virginia Family History Library. Certified copies of records cost $12 for a search, including one copy if the record is found.
Why are these records available to the public?
The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1992, with the latest amendments coming in 2001. The act aims to ensure that all members of the public in the state can access public records. This covers all records maintained by the state and local government, all of which are available for public access and copying.
To access records:
Vital Registration Office
350 Capitol Street
Charleston, WV 25301-3701