New Hampshire Vital Records
New Hampshire Vital Records
The Office of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining all state-level vital records created, administered and maintained by the state of New Hampshire regarding a person’s most important life events. These records include such documents as birth certificates, marriage licenses and death certificates and are compiled and stored in permanent central registry state entities uses to develop statistical analysis of its population.
A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document certifying the birth or to a certified copy or representation of the original document. The state of New Hampshire has been keeping official birth records since 1600s in each New Hampshire town or city where the event has occurred. The town clerk sends copies to the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics in Concord, New Hampshire. The original records of every town, early to 1900, are available at the Bureau and have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library, and family history centers. Until 1883 less than half the population was listed in vital records. These records often gave little information about parents and their birthplaces. After 1901 the records are more complete and give much more genealogical information. The records prior to 1904 are available by the New Hampshire Births and Christenings index and Index to Births, Early to 1900. Today all records are available at the New Hampshire State Vital Records Index.
A death record is most likely a copy of the information contained in a person’s death certificate. The death records started to be recorded in the state of New Hampshire as early as 1600s. Though the records are not complete, they have been registered in the town or city register the event has occurred. The records are available at New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947 at New Hampshire Family Search. Generally all existing death records are sent annually to the New Hampshire State Vital Records Index.
A marriage/divorce record is issued by a government official only after civil registration of the marriage/divorce occurs. Town clerks recorded marriages as early as 1639. Many of these records are on microfilm at New Hampshire Town Records. Records after 1901 give more information about the event and are annually sent to the New Hampshire State Vital Records Index. The earliest marriage records are available at New Hampshire Marriage Records, 1637-1947. Divorce records are available at New Hampshire Registrar of Vital Statistics.
Why Vital Records are Available to the Public
In 1976, the New Hampshire State Legislature pass a law named the New Hampshire Right to Know Law. This law was enabled with the last changes in 2002 and aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public: https://www.nh.gov/oep/planning/resources/conferences/spring-2015/documents/right-to-know-law-session-materials.pdf. Every person throughout the state can request access to access all public records through the assigned specialized offices within its determined terms.
What Vital Records Access Mean to You
The law is similar to the New Hampshire Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. The New Hampshire Right to Know Law intent is that all records maintained by state and local government entities be available for public access and copying.