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Vital Records

Vital records are: Birth, Death, Marriage and Divorce. These records are primary sources for genealogical research. If you don't know what the exact date is then here are a few tips for searching:

ANCESTRY.COM
Ancestry has many indexes for death, birth and more on its website.
They have another version of the Social Security Death Index
Washington State Death Index from 1891 to 1907 and 1940-1996
Washington State Births Index 1891-1907 and 1907-1919
Marriages Index 1802-1902

Note: Most libraries have the Ancestry Library version. You will have to go to your local library to access this database.

SOCIAL SECURITY DEATH INDEX
If you don't know the date of death the SSDI is a good place to start, however, it does not include everyone.

WESTERN STATES MARRIAGE Search Form
Covers certain years for Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming. You can search by state and then by county. The website will give you the dates covered.

Don't forget the Washington State Archives and Digital Archives and the regional branches of the Washington State Archives. There are many vital records housed for earlier years at these branch offices. See Washington State Resources below for a description of this archive.

VITALREC.COM - For Washington State and beyond
For searching for vital records for the State of Washington we recommend that you go to this website for it helps to see what is available state wide as well as countywide.

Vital Recs is the best sight for it gives good information about what is available at what office in each state of the union. It will also give you a link to VitalChek for ordering records. We prefer to go directly to the state or county office which is less expensive and faster.

Scroll down the website for the:

WASHINGTON STATE DEPT OF HEALTH
Center for Health Statistics
P.O. Box 9709
Olympia, WA 98507-9709
Phone: 360-236-4300
Orders: 306-236-4313

Birth - July 1, 1907 to present
Births prior to July 1, 1907 go to the county.
Death - Since July 1, 1907 to present
Deaths before July 1, 1907 go to the county
Marriage and divorce since Jan 1, 1968
Marriage and Divorce before 1968 go to the County Auditor where license was issued

Keep scrolling down at the website for Vital Rec and you find the County List and then click on a county of your choice. Some are more detailed than others like King County. They do give an address so you could go to the courthouse directly by Googling it.

KING COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Vital Statistics - Birth & Death Records
King County Administration Bldg., Rm 214
500 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
206-296-4768 - 800-325-6165 ex. 64768
Hours 8 am to 4 pm, Monday thru Friday

Holdings for birth:
All persons born in Seattle or King County (all years)
All Washington births registered from 1923 to present
Contact the Washington State Vital Records office for births before 1923

Holdings for death:
All persons who died in Seattle or King County 1944 forward only

Research strategy: Their website has improved and is a little easier to figure out. If you visit them in person be prepared to have the information ready. Have the name, birth date or death date and other possible names like a nickname of your ancestor. They will give you the information but not if you are vague. They are very protective so you have to be prepared. You might find that hiring one of our PS-APG members is faster, less expensive and less time consuming than going through this office.

Marriage Records and Licenses - Click on the certified copies link
Marriages records are on indexes on microfilm in this office back to 1850. You have to study the index first to get the marriage license number and it can be challenging because they were microfilmed in small print and are very difficult to read, bring a magnifying glass. Once you determine the number you take the number to the counter and the clerk retrieves the marriage microfiche. You return to the reader and search for the actual marriage record/license. Copies are $.50 a piece. We advise that you can hire someone to assist you in finding a marriage especially if you do not have an exact date. See our PS-APG Member Profiles.

KING COUNTY COURTHOUSE
Divorce Records and Court documents
516 3rd Ave, E609
Seattle, WA 98104-2386

COUNTY COURTHOUSES OF WASHINGTON STATE (Photographs only)

WASHINGTON COURTS - Court Directory
This website is one way to find county courts in Washington.

Research Strategy: Be advised that county courts are not set up to assist genealogists. So you have to be determined as you study their websites. Their websites are also not easy to negotiate, so take your time. Try searching at the County Clerk or the Auditor's office for vital records. If you still can't find the information you need, give them a call. Remember that if the county has a small population its services might be combined with the county next door. Some counties have vital records offices at the public health office. Not all county records are kept at the same place. You have the traditional courthouse building and some counties may have annexes that are in a different location. So take a little time to research before going for a visit.

The Washington Courts Search Case Records website is a little confusing but very interesting. It is not easy to determine how far back these cases go. Superior court cases search went back to 1980. None of the cases are online. If you do a search and the name you are researching comes up, click on the court case number and it will direct you to the courthouse you will need to contact for more information. Most courts will require a case number in order to access a court document.