Latter-day Saint Vital Records

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Civil governments have created records of births, marriages, deaths, and divorces. Records containing this information are commonly called "vital records." They are usually in the form of certificates. For more information on how to find civil vital records, see the research outline of the state, province, or nation where your ancestor was living when the event occurred.

This section explains how to use Church records to verify "vital" information. They may also contain information not found in civil records. You can use the following Church sources to help verify a member’s birth, marriage, or death.

Sources for Verifying Births

  • Membership Records list the birth date and place and the date when an infant was blessed. The blessing usually occurs a few weeks after the child’s birth. See the "Membership Records" section of this outline for more information.
  • Early Church Information File (cited fully in the "Biography" section of this outline) often leads to a source that provides birth information.
  • Church Census Records. The 1914 census gives the person’s age. From 1920 to 1960, the censuses give the exact birth date. From 1930 to 1960 they also give birthplace. For more information see the "Census" section of this outline.
  • Certified Birth Records. The Historical Department—Archive Search Room will provide certified birth records for Church members who cannot obtain a birth certificate from their state or local government. This service is only provided for members who need the information for legal purposes. For more information telephone 801-240-3577. A check or money order payable to the Corporation of the President for $10.00 (U.S.) must be included with your request.

Sources for Verifying Marriages

  • Early Church Information File (cited fully in the "Biography" section of this outline) indexes marriage records from selected counties in Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and California. All county marriage records for Utah from 1887 to 1914 are indexed in this file.
  • Membership Records. See the "Membership Records" section of this outline for more information.
  • Licensed Marriages Performed in the Temple. See the "Temple Records" section for more information about sealings and marriages performed in the temple.
  • Signature Books. People who were married civilly and then were sealed later had to sign a signature book. This book is often the only place an early civil marriage was ever recorded. Signature books are available for the following temples: Alberta, Arizona, Idaho Falls, Logan, Manti, St. George, and Salt Lake. These films are restricted and are in Special Collections. If the marriage information is more than 95 years old, it may be listed in the Ordinance Index.
  • Some countries require a civil marriage prior to a temple sealing. See the research outline for the nation where your ancestor lived for information about finding civil marriage records.

Sources for Verifying Deaths

  • Membership Records. See the "Membership Records" section of this outline. Also see the Deceased Members File, below.
  • Note: War deaths during the twentieth century were not recorded at the actual time of death due to national security. After the war ended, sketchy death information was released. For some, the government lists the date of death as one year and one day after the military action in which the person lost his life. For those who died in wartime check the Form E or Form 42FP membership records for the year of death and for several years after the war ended.
  • Early Church Information File (cited fully in the "Biography" section of this outline) includes many cemetery records for Utah and Idaho. It also indexes deaths recorded in early Church periodicals and selected ward, stake, and mission records.
  • Obituary Records. See the "Obituary" section of this outline and the research outline of the state, province, or nation where your ancestor died.
  • Records of People Who Died Crossing the Plains. See the "Emigration and Immigration" section of this outline for more information.

Deceased Members File. Since 1941 when a Church member has died, the ward clerk sends the person’s membership record to the Presiding Bishop’s Office, where it is placed in the Deceased Members File. The Membership Department keeps these records for ten years. After ten years the Membership Department transfers the names to the Historical Department—Archive Search Room. To access the information in the file, you must contact the correct department.

  • If the person died after 1975, and if the Church has proof of the person’s death, the Membership Department will provide birth, marriage, baptism, priesthood ordination, endowment, and sealing information.
  • If the person died between 1941 and 1975, search microfilms at the Historical Department—Archive Search Room or Family History Library.

For persons who died between 1941 and 1977, you can use the following microfilms at the Family History Library:

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Membership Department. The Deceased Members File, 1941 to 1977. Salt Lake City, Utah: Church Historian’s Office. (FHL films 884001–435). These films are not circulated to Family History Centers and photocopies are not allowed. However, you may transcribe the information by hand. This collection is divided as follows:

Handwritten Cards

Set 1: 1941–1974 (films 884001–392)
Set 2: 1974–1975 (films 884393–420)
Set 3: 1977 [1975–1977] (films 884429–35)

Computerized Cards

Set 4: 1975 (film 884421)
Set 5: 1976 (films 884422–24)
Set 6: 1977 (films 8844425–28)
Set 7: 1975–1980 Fiche index to computerized cards. (Not cataloged.)
Set 8: 1981–1988 Microfilms (Not cataloged.)

You can usually use the Ordinance Index (see the "Temple Records" section of this outline) to determine which set of Deceased Members File cards to use. Church members who died between 1941 and 1985 appear in the Ordinance Index with an "H------" batch number. The following table shows how batch numbers relate to the Deceased Members File.

Batch Numbers Deceased Members File Set
H000001 to H000168 Set 1
H002000 to H002016 Set 2
H002017 to H002033 Set 4 or Set 5
H002034 to H002046 Set 6 or Set 3
H002047 and greater Contact the Membership Department at 801-240-3500
H7----- Set 1

Remember, when you look for a woman in the Ordinance Index, look under her maiden name. You will find her under her married name on the Deceased Members File.

Other Records of Deceased Members

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Scandinavian Mission. Records of Deceased Members of the Scandinavian Mission up to March 1st, 1895. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1948. (FHL film 41933). This is an alphabetical listing of members who died between 1852 and 1895 in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It gives the name, birth date and place, baptism date and place, and the date of death. Their endowment date is also listed with the name of the proxy.

Death Records: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Who Died in England, 1909–1911. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. (FHL book 942 A1 no. 545; film 990339 item 5). This consists of seven pages of clippings from the Millennial Star.