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Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

The term "vital records" refers to documents relating to an individual's birth, marriage and death. These types of records can be found in both official, or governmentally sanctioned, and unofficial forms. Official vital records are the birth, marriage and death registries maintained by the state of Wisconsin. The UW-Parkside Archives has these records for 1906 and earlier years.

Unofficial vital records include the sacramental records of churches, hospital records, funeral home and cemetery records and materials like scrapbooks that have been collected by individuals. The UW-Parkside Archives has a variety of these unofficial vital records for Racine and Kenosha Counties, but by no means is it a comprehensive or exhaustive collection.

Resources available in our reading room or found online:

  • Wisconsin Genealogy Index, 1852-1907
    Search this database for pre-1907 Vital Records (VR), including birth, death, and marriage records. Our staff can help retrieve any record pertaining to Racine or Kenosha Counties. This index also covers 150,000 Wisconsin Name Index (WNI) records, including biographical sketches, obituaries, and newspaper articles published before 2000.  
  • Record of marriages (1850-1853) and ministers' credentials, 1836-1962
    Kenosha Series 73
    Pages 1 through 80 of Vol. 1 contain a register of marriages, 1850-1853, recorded by the Circuit Court Clerk, showing the names of the bride, groom, and official performing the ceremony; date and place of the ceremony; and parents' consent in cases where the bride or groom was a minor.


Additional Resources for Genealogists & Historians:

  • Wisconsin State Death Virtual-fiche Database, 1959-1979
    Use search box to enter the surname of your subject and click [begin search]. Results will link you to a virtual-fiche image. Click on the "go to fiche" link in the upper right hand corner to search the index. Select the "idx" link at the upper left of the sheet to locate the corresponding square for your subject's information. (Your subject will be found in the square of the name alphabetically most closely preceding your subject's.) Clicking on the referred to square will result in a list of names in alphabetical order with each person's date of death, county, age, etc.
  • Wisconsin Vital Records Services
    The Wisconsin Vital Records Services processes vital records requests (including divorce) for events after 1907.
  • Racine County Certificates from Racine County Register of Deeds
    Order certified copies of Racine County vital records (with government seal) for your immediate family from Racine County Register of Deeds.
  • Kenosha County Register of Deeds Office
    Site allows you to order copies of Kenosha County vital records or real estate documents online with a credit card.


A Brief History of…

Wisconsin's Birth Registry: From 1852 to 1897, physicians, midwives or others attending a birth, or the parents if no one else was present, were required to file a certificate of birth with the county register of deeds within thirty days of the birth. Unfortunately, this requirement was widely disregarded; so many 19th century births were never recorded on Wisconsin's birth registry. After July, 1897, the certificate of birth was to be filed with the local health officer or local clerk if there was no health officer, who then forwarded the certificate to the register of deeds. The register of deeds entered information from the certificates into a separate registry book and submitted a copy of the registry semiannually to the Secretary of State, before October 1907, and to the Bureau of Health Statistics after October, 1907.

Wisconsin's Marriage Registry: In Wisconsin from 1836 to 1907, clergy, justices of the peace and others solemnizing marriages were required to submit a certificate for each marriage performed. Before 1852, these certificates were to be submitted to county clerks. After 1852, the certificates were submitted to the county register of deeds. Prior to 1905, the register of deeds was required to enter the information from the certificates into a registry book, maintain an index to that book and send a copy of the registrations to the Secretary of State. After 1905, the copies were submitted to the state Bureau of Vital Statistics, now the Bureau of Health Statistics.

Wisconsin's Death Registry: From 1852 to 1897, a physician attendant at a death was required to submit a death certificate to the county register of deeds. In 1897, the requirement to file a certificate was extended to all deaths, whether or not a physician was present. Legislation passed that year made it illegal for a sexton, undertaker, or other person to bury anyone without obtaining a burial permit from the local health officer or clerk. The burial permit was to be issued only if a death certificate had been submitted. The register of deeds recorded the information from the death certificate in two identical volumes. The county retained one volume; the other was forwarded to the Secretary of State before 1908 and to the Bureau of Health Statistics for 1908 and later.

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