Tennessee Vital Records

Tennessee Vital Records

The Office of Vital Records maintains all state level vital records in Tennessee, which includes any documents that relate to a resident’s milestone life events,. These include births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. The files on said events can include a range of different documents, such as divorce decrees, divorce certificates, other divorce records, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and marriage certificates. These documents are stored in a central vital record registry. They can then be used for statistical analysis in the future.

Divorce Records

In the state of Tennessee, all divorce records are issued by state officials after the registration of the event. When someone files for a divorce or annulment in Tennessee, records of the corresponding event are recorded and kept with all other state vital files. The records in question can consist of divorce certificates, divorce decrees, and other divorce-related files. It depends on the state as to whether these can be accessed/copied by the public. Divorces can be found in legislative papers before 1834. After this point, the county circuit, and chancery courts had powers to grant divorces. Divorce proceedings that did not also involve disputes over property were handled by the circuit courts. The chancery court handled those that did involve disputes over property division. There were 23,879 divorces in Tennessee in 2017. A copy of a divorce record in Tennessee costs $15.

Marriage Records

Marriage records are also handed out by government officials in the state of Tennessee. They are issued after the wedding has been registered with the state. In Tennessee, the earliest and most complete marriage records came in the form of county records. The earliest surviving records start at around three years after the county in question was organized. Records from these earliest points up to present day are handled by the relevant county clerks. In 1949, these clerks started sending copies to the Office of Vital Statistics. Between the organization dates of the counties and the 1900s, the Family History Library holds microfilm record copies. There were 55,031 marriages in Tennessee in 2017. A copy of a marriage record in Tennessee costs $15.

Birth Records

Birth records come in the form of certificates distributed upon the birth of all children in the state of Tennessee, or a certified copy of that document. Birth records are split into four categories in Tennessee, before 1874, 1874-1908, 1908-1912, and 1914-present day. In the first two categories, records were collected from church and county records. These provide the earliest evidence of Tennessee births. Between 1908 and 1912, the clerk of the Board of School Directories registered all births. In 1914, a state-wide registration of births was introduced. Records are now maintained by the Tennessee State Board of Health and the Tennessee Family History Library. A copy of a birth record in Tennessee costs $15.

Death Records

Death records in Tennessee relate to the information from a person’s death certificate. Death records are split into four categories in Tennessee, before 1874, 1874-1908, 1908-1912, and 1914-present day. In the first three categories, records were collected mainly from the Tennessee Family History Library. They also have many of the original records in microfilm copy. In 1914, a state-wide registration of deaths was introduced. Records are now collected each and every year from the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee State Library. There were 70,069 deaths in Tennessee in 2017. A copy of a death record in Tennessee costs $15.

Why are these records available to the public?

In 1957, the Tennessee Open Records Act was passed by state legislature, with the most recent changes coming in 2008. This Act was brought in to ensure that all members of the public in Tennessee held the fundamental right to access all public records. Any public record held by the state or local government in Tennessee can be accessed and copied by residents of the state.

To access records:

1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243 
(615) 741-1763

Tennessee State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (615) 258-6472

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  • Death Records
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Tennessee

Tennessee

  • State archives hold over 40,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of courts – trial and appellate.
  • There are 3 grand divisions in Tennessee Court of Appeal.
  • There are 2 intermediate appellate courts in Tennessee: The Court of Criminal Appeals and The Tennessee Court of Appeals.
  • There are 31 circuit courts in Tennessee, one in each of the 31 judicial districts.
  • The highest court in Tennessee is the Tennessee Supreme Court.
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