Montana Vital Records
Montana Vital Records
The Office of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining all state-level vital records created, administered and maintained by the state of Montana regarding a person’s most important life events. These records include such documents as birth certificates, marriage licenses and death certificates and are compiled and stored in permanent central registry state entities uses to develop statistical analysis of its population.
A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document certifying the birth or to a certified copy or representation of the original document. Some counties in Montana recorded births prior to 1895. These records have been kept by the clerk of the court in each county. A few of the early county records have been transcribed and published, and these are available at the Family History Library. Statewide registration of vital statistics began in Montana in 1907 and was generally complied with by 1920. Delayed registrations of births are included in the indexes maintained by the state office. All the records are collected and kept now at Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
A death record is most likely a copy of the information contained in a person’s death certificate. The state of Montana records death records according to the following categories prior-1907 and 1907-present. A statewide registration of death records was not required until 1907. Although not required, a few Montana counties kept death records prior to 1895. For instance, Yellowstone County has deaths beginning in 1884. The death records now are kept and collected by Montana Vital Records Department of Health.
A marriage/divorce record is issued by a government official only after civil registration of the marriage/divorce occurs. There is no centralized registration of marriage records. Each county generally began keeping marriage records soon after its organization. To obtain copies of marriage and divorce records the requester need to write to the clerk of the district court. The State Department of Health has an index to marriages beginning in 1943. This index helps to identify the county in which the marriage occurred. The original records are available only in the county. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many county marriage records. Early marriages for many of the counties are searchable online at no cost on the Western States Marriage Index.
Why Vital Records are Available to the Public
In 1895, the Montana State Legislature pass a law named the Montana Public Records Act. This law was enabled with the last changes in 2005 and aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public: http://law.justia.com/codes/montana/2005/2/2_6.html . Every person throughout the state can request access to access all public records through the assigned specialized offices within its determined terms.
What Vital Records Access Mean to You
The law is similar to the Montana Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted as the Idaho Public Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Montana.