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Finding Birth & Death Records in Tennessee

Births & Deaths Before 1908

There was no official statewide registration of births and deaths in Tennessee before 1908. Four cities did keep some earlier birth and death records, which are available through the Tennessee State Library & Archives. Searches of these records can be requested by mail, if the year of the event is known.

Pre-1908 Births Pre-1908 Deaths
Chattanooga from 1879 Chattanooga from 1872
Knoxville from 1881 Knoxville from 1881
Nashville from 1881* Nashville from 1874
Memphis from 1874**
(TSLA has years 1874-1883)
Memphis from 1848**

*The Metro Archives of Nashville and Davidson County has posted an online index to Nashville city birth records for 1881 - 1913 and an online index to Davidson County birth records for 1908-1912.

**The web site for the Shelby County Register of Deeds has an online index to Memphis death records that covers the years 1848-1960 an index to Memphis birth records for 1874-1912.

PLEASE NOTE: Ancestry.com, in partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has added an index to and scanned images of the city birth records of Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga for 1881-1915. They have also added an index to and scanned images of the city death records of Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga for 1872-1923. The indexes to these records at Ancestry.com's Tennessee State Library and Archives web page can be viewed by all. RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE who are not members of Ancestry.com can view the scanned copies of the records by first going to the Tennessee Electronic Library page at http://tntel.tnsos.org/, clicking on the Genealogy tab, and then clicking on Tennessee Records; scans of these records can then be viewed after a free log-in on the Ancestry site. The indexes and images are free to Tennessee residents. Individuals who subscribe to Ancestry.com can also view the scanned records. 

 

Delayed Birth Records

When the Social Security Administration was created in 1935, the agency asked for birth certificates as proof the applicant qualified for entry into the program. Most Tennesseans who wished to apply, however, were born prior to the 1908 law that first required the keeping of birth certificates. Beginning in 1935, Tennessee began to issue Delayed Birth Certificates. These certificates were not issued automatically; the applicant had to request the record from the state, and must supply supporting documents or letters.

Searches of the Delayed Birth Certificates for birth years 1869-1913 can be requested by e-mail, if you can provide TSLA with specified information: name of the individual, an approximate date or year of birth, the county of birth (if known), and (if known) the name of the mother. TSLA tries to respond to e-mail reference questions within ten working days.

PLEASE NOTE: Ancestry.com, in partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has added an index to and scanned images of the 1869-1909 delayed birth records of Tennessee. The indexes to these records at Ancestry.com's Tennessee State Library and Archives web page can be viewed by all. RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE who are not members of Ancestry.com can view the scanned copies of the records by first going to the Tennessee Electronic Library page at http://tntel.tnsos.org/, clicking on the Genealogy tab, and then clicking on Tennessee Records; scans of these records can then be viewed after a free log-in on the Ancestry site. The indexes and images are free to Tennessee residents. Individuals who subscribe to Ancestry.com can also view the scanned records. 

 

Delayed birth records for the birth years after 1913 are held by the Office of Vital Records, Tennessee Department of Health.


 

Births & Deaths 1908 - 1912

These records were kept across the state by clerks in each Tennessee county. They have been microfilmed and are available at the Tennessee State Library & Archives. Searches can also be requested by mail.

The Index to Tennessee Death Records 1908 - 1912 is available on the TSLA web site. The index gives the individual's name, county of residence, year of death, and the death certificate number.

Davidson County (as distinct from Nashville) began keeping their own death records in 1900 and continued to do so through 1913. An index to Davidson County Death Records 1900-1913 is available on the TSLA web site.

PLEASE NOTE: Ancestry.com, in partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has added an index to and scanned images of Tennessee death records for the years 1908-1958. The indexes to these records at Ancestry.com's Tennessee State Library and Archives web page can be viewed by all. RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE who are not members of Ancestry.com can view the scanned copies of the records by first going to the Tennessee Electronic Library page at http://tntel.tnsos.org/, clicking on the Genealogy tab, and then clicking on Tennessee Records; scans of these records can then be viewed after a free log-in on the Ancestry site. The indexes and images are free to Tennessee residents. Individuals who subscribe to Ancestry.com can also view the scanned records. 

 


Births & Deaths 1913

The law requiring birth & death registration expired in 1913, and no records were recorded for that year. TSLA has copies of delayed birth certificates for births in 1913. (Please see the section above on delayed birth certificates.)

Davidson County (as distinct from Nashville) began keeping their own death records in 1900 and continued to do so through 1913. An index to Davidson County Death Records 1900-1913 is available on the TSLA web site.


 

Births 1914 - Present (Long Form Copies)

These records are available from the Office of Vital Records.


 

Births 1949 - Present (Short Form Copies)

These records are available from the Office of Vital Records.


 

Deaths 1914 - 1963

These records are available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Searches can also be requested by mail.

The Statewide Index to Tennessee Death Records 1914 - 1933 is a long-term project to index Tennessee death records for the years 1914 on.   The index lists name of deceased, county of death, and volume and page number of the certificate; beginning with death certificates issued in 1926, the certificate number is listed instead of the volume and page. (The Statewide Index has replace the Partial Index to Tennessee Death Records 1914-1925, which covered only 38 counties and did not include children under two years of age.) 

The web site for the Shelby County Register of Deeds has posted an online index to Shelby County death records for the years 1848-1956 and to state-wide Tennessee death records for the years 1949-2009.

PLEASE NOTE: Ancestry.com, in partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has added an index to and scanned images of Tennessee death records for the years 1908-1958. The indexes to these records at Ancestry.com's Tennessee State Library and Archives web page can be viewed by all. RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE who are not members of Ancestry.com can view the scanned copies of the records by first going to the Tennessee Electronic Library page at http://tntel.tnsos.org/, clicking on the Genealogy tab, and then clicking on Tennessee Records; scans of these records can then be viewed after a free log-in on the Ancestry site. The indexes and images are free to Tennessee residents. Individuals who subscribe to Ancestry.com can also view the scanned records. 

 

Deaths 1964 - Present

These records are available from the Office of Vital Records.




Always provide NAME, YEAR and COUNTY when requesting a search.


Tennessee State Library & Archives
403 Seventh Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37243-0312
(615) 741-2764

 

Updated June 24, 2014

 

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