Records of vital statistics (births, marriages and deaths) are excellent sources of genealogical information. Prior to 1880, only marriages, which required a license, were recorded in public records, and then only at the county level. In 1880, legislation was passed creating the Iowa Department of Health and requiring all births, deaths, and marriages to be recorded at both the county and state levels.
The State Historical Society of Iowa has available birth, death and marriage records from across the state. These records include an extensive collection of County Records Microfilm of pre-1940 births, deaths and marriages filmed by Family Search in the counties; the years vary by county. In addition, the State Archives collections include the state’s birth, death, and marriage records from the Department of Public Health. Iowa law requires that birth and marriage vital statistics in the custody of the State Archives be 75 years or older and death vital statistics be 50 years or older to be made available to the public. For a description of the information contained in these records over the years, refer to Researching Iowa Birth, Death, Marriage and Divorce Records.
Access to FamilySearch and Ancestry websites are available at no charge at the Des Moines and Iowa City Research Centers.
For certified copies of birth, death and marriage records or more recent birth, death, and marriage records contact the Department of Public Health.
The State Historical Society of Iowa is in the process of making more vital records available online. The following is a brief summary of records currently available at the Des Moines Research Center and online.