What are vital statistics records?

Vital statistics records are those that record the important events in human life, such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces.

Vital statistics records are valuable sources of information when researching your family history. These are the various types of records in Travis County and where to locate them.

Marriage Records

early Travis County marriage record

Marriage records are recorded and maintained by the Travis County Clerk’s office; the records date back to the county’s establishment in 1840.  Early marriage records and their indexes are recorded in large bound volumes, and some original licenses are maintained in loose paper format. 

Records prior to 1999 are microfilmed for research purposes, and the earliest record books are also digitized (available here: https://texashistory.unt.edu/search/?q=travis+county+marriage&t=dc_title&sort=title).  Records dating from 1999 and after are also digitized (available here: https://www.tccsearch.org/Marriage/SearchEntry.aspx). Records include:

Marriage Licenses and Indexes – 1840 – present

Sometimes referred to as the Marriage Record. Recorded copies of marriage licenses show license number, names of the bride and groom, date of ceremony, name and title of individual performing ceremony. 

Direct and reverse indexes (arranged alphabetically by the names of both the bride and groom name) show the license number, names of bride and groom, date of marriage, and volume and page number where recorded.

Marriage Applications – 1959 – 1970s

Applications for marriage licenses showing county, full names, social security numbers, date/place of birth of applicants, usual residence, and proof of identities. Earlier records are not indexed.

Transcriptions of indexes of early Travis County marriage records were completed by Austin Genealogy Society and are available online: https://www.austingenealogicalsociety.org/records/travis-county-marriages-1846-1882/.

Birth and Death Records

early Travis County death record

The recording of birth and death records in Travis County is not a straightforward matter.  In Texas, births and deaths are recorded by the county in which they occurred, and in Travis County, they are recorded and maintained by several different entities, including the County Clerk’s office, the Justices of the Peace, and the City of Austin.  Generally, the County Clerk’s office records births and deaths that occurred within the county but outside the city limits of Austin, which are maintained by the city.  However, over the years the recording responsibilities in Travis County have shifted between these different entities.

Because the County Clerk is not the only registrar for births and deaths in a county, keep in mind that even if you cannot find a particular birth or death among county records, it does not mean the person was not born or did not die in the county.  Be sure to also check with the City of Austin Office of Vital Records as well as with the State Department of Vital Statistics.  Records of births and deaths are required to be forwarded to the State, so in theory, the State should have the same records as the county and the city, although this may not always be the case, particularly with older records.

The registration of births and deaths was not mandated by the State of Texas until 1903.  Records before this time are scattered and incomplete, with the exception of the 1876-1879 time period, during which births were registered by the District Clerk’s Office.  It is of note that in this record, the family would often record the birth dates of their previous children at the same time. These records are now maintained by the County Clerk.

Beginning in 1939, individuals were permitted to provide proof of birth and receive a delayed birth certificate, which was recorded by the County Clerk in the Delayed Birth Record.  Prior to 1959, persons could apply for delayed birth certificates in the county of their residence regardless of their birthplace, but beginning in 1960, only a person born in a county could obtain a delayed birth certificate in that county. 

Travis County birth and death records include birth registers, certificates, and indexes.  Early records were recorded in large bound volumes; later certificates were often loose. 

Records are microfilmed for research purposes, and film can be accessed at the County Clerk’s office. The record types are listed below. The earliest records are also digitized and available online. Select birth records can be found here: https://texashistory.unt.edu/search/?q=travis+county+birth&t=dc_title&sort=title, and early death records are online here: https://texashistory.unt.edu/search/?q=travis+county+death&t=dc_title&sort=title. Transcriptions of indexes of some early Travis County birth records were completed by Austin Genealogy Society and are available online here: https://www.austingenealogicalsociety.org/records/early-travis-county-births/.

Birth Records and Indexes – 1873 – 1875, 1903 – present

Birth registers and certificates include name, sex, and race of child, date and place of birth, names of parents. Later records include more detailed information, including residence, nationality, and occupations of parents. Indexes are arranged alphabetically by name of child.

Delayed Birth Certificates and Indexes – 1881 – present

Delayed certificates show name, date and place of birth, sex, color or race of registrant, name of parents and the state or country of their births. Though these records are indexed alphabetically by name of child, they can be difficult to search, as the dates of births are not sequential.

Death Records and Indexes – 1890 – present

Registers and copies of death certificates that show the name, residence, sex, race, marital status, age, and occupation of the deceased, place, date and cause of death, place and date of burial. Most of the records date from 1903 and after.  Indexes are arranged alphabetically by the name of the deceased.

For births within the past 75 years and deaths within the past 25 years, only immediate family members to the person whose name is on the birth certificate or death certificate are eligible to request a copy. Any of the following relationships by blood or marriage are considered to be immediate family members: self, child, parent, brother, sister, grandparent, and spouse.  All those with any other relationship must provide legal documentation, such as a court order establishing guardianship.

Divorce Records

Divorces in Texas are recorded by the District Clerk’s office in the county where the divorce was filed.  Divorces are filed in the civil district courts and are recorded in the minutes.  Minutes relating to divorces show the date of proceedings, case number, style of case, nature of matters brought before the court and proceedings thereon, and orders and judgments of the court.  Divorce Minutes did not emerge as separate records until the 1890s, so earlier records can be found in the Civil Minutes and Civil Case Papers.  Minutes date back to the 1840s and have both direct and reverse indexes. All minutes are microfilmed and available for research.

Copies of divorce decrees can be obtained by contacting the District Clerk’s office.

Contact Information

Travis County Clerk Recording Division (marriage, birth and death records)

5501 Airport Blvd.

Austin, TX 78751

(512) 854-9188

recording@traviscountytx.gov

https://countyclerk.traviscountytx.gov/recording.html

Currently open by appointment only. 

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Travis County District Clerk Records (divorce records)

1000 Guadalupe St., #103

Austin, TX 78701

512-854-9457

districtclerkhelp@traviscountytx.gov

https://www.traviscountytx.gov/district-clerk/records-request


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