District of Columbia Public Records District of Columbia Public Records. Birth records, marriage records, death records, divorce records, court records, land records, and more can be used for genealogy searches.
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District of Columbia Public Records

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How To Search Public and Vital Records - Vital records are records of life events important enough that some level of government acquires, organizes, and preserves them. While the term "vital records" is often applied to a wide variety of life events... Read more

Washington D.C. Vital Records
Birth records from the year 1874 (and some beginning in 1872) and death records from 1855 may be obtained for a fee by writing the Department of Human Services. While the public may not examine vital records in person, District of Columbia law states that when 100 years have elapsed after the date of birth or fifty years after the date of death, those documents become public records and anyone may obtain a copy upon submitting a proper application. Death records do not exist for the Civil War years, 1861–65. Marriage records date from December 1811 and continue to the present, though are only available from the Superior Court.

Vital Records Division, State Center for Health Statistics, 800 9th Street, S.W., 1st Floor, Washington, DC 20024-2480,
Tel: (202) 645-5962, (800) 669-8309 (Credit Card Customers),
URL: http://www.ci.washington.dc.us/HEALTH/schs.htm

For birth records from 1874 and death records from 1855, write:
District of Columbia Dept. of Human Services, Vital Records Branch, 613 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, (202) 727-9281

For marriage records from 1811, write:
Marriage Bureau, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 4485, Washington, DC 20001-2131

Washington D.C. Land Records
District of Columbia land transactions that took place prior to 1792 are found among records for Prince George's and Montgomery counties, Maryland, and in Alexandria County, Virginia. Microfilm copies of Alexandria County, Virginia, deeds from 1783 to 1865 are available at the FHL, along with Maryland Circuit Court deeds for Prince George's County from 1696 to 1884 and Montgomery County from 1777 to 1863. It is also advisable to research the deeds of Fairfax County, Virginia, when other routes have proved unsuccessful. Deeds (or an index to them) from 1792 to the present are located at the Recorder of Deeds for Washington, DC. The earliest deeds (1792–1869) are at the National Archives, but a search of the index at the recorder's office will be helpful first. Those for the period 1792 to 1886 and accompanying index volumes have been microfilmed and are available through the FHL. Of interest to those tracing slave ancestors is the presence of manumission records among the deeds. Also see:
Gahn, Bessie Wilmarth. Original Patentees of Land at Washington Prior to 1700. 1836. Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969. (Lists the earlier landowners a century before the District of Columbia was created.) Recorder of Deeds
515 D Street, NW
Washington DC 20001

Washington D.C. Court Records
Court records include probate records (which include wills), guardianship, naturalization, and a wide variety of other sources, ranging from criminal trials to simple road orders. All contain information about individuals within the area. It should be remembered that there are different levels of jurisdiction for courts in the United States, all of which should be considered for research under various circumstances. Court of Common Pleas, Orphan's Court, Probate Court, District Court, Superior Court, Supreme Court, and other titles are among those encountered. To study more about court records in general, see "Research in Court Records," by Arlene H. Eakle, in: Szucs, Loretto Dennis, and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, eds. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Rev. ed. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1997.

Washington D.C. Military Records
Military records for those living in the District of Columbia are included in the National Archives publication Military Service Records: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications, (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, 1985). The District of Columbia maintained its own militia, as found in Frederick P. Todd, "Militia and Volunteers of the District of Columbia, 1783–1820," Records of the Columbia Historical Society 50 (1948): 387–88, published by the society. Also see the following resources: Neagles, James C. U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1994.
Ely, Selden M. "The District of Columbia in the American Revolution and Patriots of the Revolutionary Period Who Are Interred in the District or in Arlington." Records of the Columbia Historical Society 21. Washington, DC: Columbia Historical Society, 1918.

Additional Sources
Cook, Eleanor M. V. Guide to the Records of Your District of Columbia Ancestors. Silver Spring, MD: Family Line Publications, 1987. A Guide to Genealogical Research in the Nation's Capitol. 7th ed.: Annandale Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989. Angevine, Erma Miller. "Genealogical Research on Families of the District of Columbia." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 78 (March 1990): 15–32. Proctor, John Clagett. Washington, Past and Present: A History. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1930.

District of Columbia Vital Records:

Event: Birth or death

Cost of copy: $12.00

Vital Records Branch
825 North Capitol Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

Remarks: Office has had death records since 1855 and birth records since 1874 but no death records were filed during the Civil War.

Cashiers check or money order should be made payable to DC Treasurer. To verify current fees, the telephone number is (202) 442-9009. This will be a recorded message.

Search All District of Columbia Records

Event: Marriage

Cost of copy: $10.00

Marriage Bureau
515 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001


Event: Divorce (court)

Cost of copy: $2.00

Clerk, Superior Court for the District of Columbia
Family Division
500 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Remarks: Records since September 16, 1956.


Event: Divorce (court)

Cost of copy: Varies

Clerk, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Washington, DC 20001

Remarks: Records before September 16, 1956.

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