Kansas vital records
At the Kansas Historical Society we rarely go a day without a request from a family researcher for birth, death and marriage records for their Kansas ancestors. Unfortunately, in Kansas, it can be difficult to track down early records.
Records After 1911
The State of Kansas started keeping official records of births and deaths on July 1, 1911. Marriage licenses were required beginning in 1867, but they were not filed at the state level until May 1, 1913. To order copies of vital records after those dates, you need to contact the Kansas Office of Vital Statistics, Charles B. Curtis State Office Building, 1000 SW Jackson Street, Suite 120, Topeka, KS 66612-1221; 785-296-1400.
Birth Verification Searches
Our reference staff can search state and federal census records up to 1930 and provide certified copies for birth date verification. For certified copies of a census record after 1930, you can request an age search from the U. S. Census Bureau.
Records Between 1885 and 1911
Between about 1885 and 1911 births, deaths and marriages may have been recorded at the county or city clerk's office in register volumes. Not all of these registers have survived. At the Kansas Historical Society we have copies of some county and city vital statistics registers on microfilm. Some of this microfilm is being digitized by the Family Search website. Additional information may be found in church records, newspapers, cemetery books and other materials in our collection.
We have the largest collection of Kansas newspapers on microfilm in the state. These can be searched for death, birth and marriage announcements. Search our Kansas newspapers database to see what papers are available on microfilm. These are available for interlibrary loan to other libraries.
Sometimes early vital statistics registers can still be found at the county or city offices that recorded the event, or at a local genealogical society or public library. Contact information for historical and genealogical societies, public libraries and other local places that might have preserved vital records are available on the Kansas GenWeb site. The information contained in these records varies from place to place.
For birth and death records, check the Archives Catalog for county records on microfilm, but very few counties in Kansas have records that early. The best way to confirm an early date of birth is the nearest Kansas state or federal census, which was taken every five years between 1855 and 1930.
To find a date of death, check the probate court index for the county of death to see if a case was filed. If KSHS doesn't have microfilm of the probate index or case files for that county, see the directory of Kansas District Courts for contact information.
Some pre-territorial vital records are included in the records from Indian missions. Check the Archives Catalog for information about records from specific missions.
Marriage and Divorce Records
Marriages before May 1913 were recorded in the district court in the county where the marriage took place. In Kansas, marriage licenses did not include the names of the parents unless the bride or groom was underage. Check the Archives Catalog for county marriage records available on microfilm. Our Kansas Marriage Index, 1854-1861 contains territorial marriage notices that have been compiled from newspapers and other sources.
Divorces records for 1855-1861 were recorded in the private laws section of the Territorial Legislature's Session Laws. Divorce records were recorded in the district courts at the county seat from 1861 until July 1951. Check the Archives Catalog for microfilm of county divorce records. For copies of official divorce records after July 1951, contact the Kansas Office of Vital Statistics.
Information that may be found in Kansas vital records:
- Child's name
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Parent's names (and sometimes mother's maiden name)
- Place of residence if different from place of birth
- Names of bride and groom
- Name of deceased
- Death date
- Place of death
- Cause of death
- Age at time of death
- Place of birth
- Names of parents and their places of birth
- Name of spouse
- Name of person giving the information and the informant's relationship to the deceased
- Race is listed in some records