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Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (Record Group HS6.07)

Object Type: Collection
In Collection: Health and Human Services (Record Group HS)


Although Massachusetts municipal clerks were already required to record births and deaths (St 1692-3, c 48 and St 1795, c 9) and marriages (St 1786, c 3), it was not until the passage of St 1842, s 95, s 1 that they were instructed to forward this data to the state secretary annually (May through April), on forms provided by him. At that time whole numbers of births, marriages, and deaths were reported, and for deaths, each name, sex, age, occupation (for males), and cause of death. St 1844, c 159, s 1 provided for detailed enumeration of each of the three categories--for births: date of birth, place, name, sex, parent names and residence, father's occupation, and date of record; for marriages: date of marriage, place, name/residence/station of marrying official, name/residence/age/marital status/occupation of each party, parent names, and date of record; for deaths: date of death, name, sex, marital status, age, occupation, place of death, birthplace, parent names, cause of death, and date of record. --St 1849, c 202 provided for a return from May 1848 through Jan. 1850, with succeeding annual returns to be for the calendar year. GS 1860, c 21, s 1 added for births: color and parent birthplaces; for marriages: color and birthplaces; for deaths: color, residence, parent birthplaces, and place of burial (cf. PS 1882, c 32, s 1). St 1887, c 202, s 5 added for deaths: name of husband if married woman. St 1890, c 402, s 1 added for deaths: mother's maiden name, maiden name if married woman. St 1897, c 444, s 1 added for births: mother's maiden name; for marriages: number of marriage, mother's maiden name, maiden name if widowed or divorced woman; for deaths: cemetery where buried, maiden and husband's names if widowed or divorced woman (cf. RS 1902, c 29, s 1) --St 1903, c 305, s 1 provided for the monthly returns of deaths by municipal clerks to the state secretary. St 1904, c 415 made similar provision for births and marriages, but this was not implemented until 1918, as confirmed by an attorney general opinion, Sept. 10, 1918. --St 1976, c 486 transferred state record-keeping responsibilities for vital records from the state secretary to a Registry of Vital Records and Statistics within the Dept. of Public Health. Series consists of completed forms bound into ledgers as submitted by municipal clerks to the state secretary. Deaths from May 1903 (Boston from Aug. 1903) are in the form of one-page certificates bound into volumes; likewise births and marriages for most municipalities from Jan. 1, 1918 (remainder from July 2, 1918). Boston records kept as separate ledgers, births/marriages, 1914-1918, 1920; deaths, 1915-1918. Appendix: Amended/delayed entries (births) as filed with the state secretary, to 1925. For a discussion of municipal vital records as such see: Massachusetts. Office of the Secretary of State. Transcripts of town vital records prior to 1850 ((M-Ar)124X)


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