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West Virginia: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Vital Records

Based on the date of the vital event (birth, death, marriage, divorce), determine whether you are seeking a state or county level record. If the record you are seeking has been digitized, you can access it online, through the projects described below. If it has not been digitized or if you need a certified copy, contact the appropriate state or county office to view the record.

Timeline of Vital Records

Birth
  • 1853 to present, county level (County Clerk)

  • 1920 to present, state level

Note: West Virginia also has "Delayed birth certificates" maintained at both the county and state levels. These were generally issued to people for whom a birth record was not recorded, who lived long enough to be eligible for Social Security or other benefits that required proof of birth.

Death
  • 1853 to present, county level (County Clerk)
  • 1917 to present, state level
Marriage Records
  • Inception of county to present, county level (County Clerk)

  • 1964 to present, state level

Divorce Records
  • Inception of county to present, county level (Circuit Court)

Online Resources for Vital Records

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History External provides free access to digitized and indexed birth, death, and marriage records. The available years may vary based on county, filmed records, missing records, and privacy restrictions. See the Guide to West Virginia Vital Research Records Project External to view more detailed information.

Obtaining Copies of Vital Records

Published Vital Records

Below are selected print publications for statewide vital records. The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

To locate additional published materials, go to the Print Resources section of this guide for search tips on locating published county courthouse records, abstracts, and indexes that may aide you in locating original records at the county level.