Another Year, Another Set of Pennsylvania Vital Records!

They’re here! Another year of vital records! A few years ago, the Pennsylvania legislature voted to allow public access to Pennsylvania’s birth and death records which had previously been closely held by the state. Voting for a privacy period of 105 years for birth records and 50 years for death records, they release one more year each January. As of today, access for the public is available for births from 1906-1912 and deaths from 1906-1967. Note that this does NOT mean the entire span is digitized and searchable on any large database site (although they will eventually catch up).

To search the latest releases and order a record from the State Archives, first read this webpage where you can then click on birth or death indices to access the PDF files, in year order by alphabet letter of surname, going down the page. When you find an index entry of interest, follow the instructions about the state file number you need and request that the state send it to you ($5 each). You can also visit or have someone visit the State Archives for you. (You can read about hiring a professional here.)

Access to records is continuing changing. Just when you thought you had “searched everywhere” another new release of pertinent records shows up. This is a reminder to keep track of your searches and repeat them periodically. You never know when or where that key puzzle piece will bring together your family history picture!

By Simtropolitan, Jean-Pierre Demailly (old version) - from the xrmap flag collection 2.7, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=527716

By Simtropolitan, Jean-Pierre Demailly (old version) – from the xrmap flag collection 2.7, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=527716

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4 Responses to Another Year, Another Set of Pennsylvania Vital Records!

  1. Ancestry still stops at 1964 deaths. The one I want is 1965.

    • GRIPitt says:

      For the death records from 1965 to 1967, Pennsylvania has released them for public access which (as the article says) is NOT the same as digitized and online. For those years you must (at this time) click on the PDF file index for your year and surname and visually look for the entry you seek, keeping in mind spelling variations. Once found, you use the state file number to request the record through the form provided on their website. Or hire a professional to retrieve it for you.

      Anyone with Pennsylvania research is very grateful for the relentless work of the citizen group who lobbied the legislature for years before they granted access to the records. Pennsylvania used to be one of the five states with the most closely held vital records, and now has this rolling access outside of the deemed privacy years. Within the privacy years you must be the person, directly related to the person, or be a legal representative of the person for whom the record is requested. We are glad it changed for the historic records.

  2. Claudia Sperl says:

    When is Ancestry going to release, I understood that they have copied most of them?

    • GRIPitt says:

      Claudia, good question for Ancestry. A state archivist said that Ancestry was digitizing the years released since they put up the initial database. I can only speculate that they may be waiting to aggregate more years, or for some other reason that I am not aware of, before adding them to the online world.

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