Try the Delaware Public Archives for old birth, death, marriage records

March 9, 2014

Those looking for an older official documentation of a birth, death, or marriage can try their luck at the Delaware Public Archives. Delaware law states that birth records older than 72 years, and death and marriage records older than 40 years, must be turned over to the Delaware Public Archives. These records are stored at the Division of Public Health Bureau of Vital Statistics in Dover.

Each year, the DPA receives a new set of birth, death, and marriage records. In February of this year, the 1941 births and the 1973 marriages and deaths were turned over. Upon becoming part of the DPA collection, the materials are open for public review. These materials are a wealth of information for genealogists and other researchers who are seeking knowledge about their family and the history of the people of the First State.

DPA Director Stephen Marz said, “I don’t think many Delawareans are aware that all vital statistics records will eventually end up at the archives and will become part of our permanent collection. Many people don’t realize this until they need a specific record, and the Bureau of Vital Statistics sends them to us for the documentation they are requesting.”

While these documents can fulfill a long list of legal requirements for such items as passports, Social Security, insurance, pensions, death benefits, and estate settlements, genealogists see these records as a gold mine of information for tracing ancestors and connecting generations of family members.

Most vital statistic records include the parents’ names of the person or persons who is the subject of the record itself. In addition, the maiden name of the individual’s mother is usually included. This one reference can provide the clues needed for a researcher to find a wide range of genealogical information.

For more information about the Delaware Public Archives, go to or Read the Archives blog at to learn more about events and other items of interest at the Archives.

The Delaware Public Archives is located at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard North in Dover. The Mabel Lloyd Ridgely Research Room is open to the public 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday to Friday. On the second Saturday of every month the research room is open from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

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