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For Virginia Researchers

Virginia Vital Records Update

Virginia Vital Records Update

The 2012 Virginia General Assembly passed SB 660, which not only reduced the “closed” period for marriage and death vital records from 50 to 25 years, but also directed that an online index should be created, linked to digital images, pursuant to a contract with a genealogical indexing company. The original vital records now held by the Virginia Department of Health (“VDH”), once they are no longer “closed”, are to be delivered to the Library of Virginia (LVA), with the online index to be on both the VDH and LVA websites.

The legislation became effective July 1, 2012, and while researchers seeking marriage and death records have been able to order these (over 25 years old) from VDH since that date, VDH’s negotiation of the contract for indexing and digitization has taken longer.

Effective August 15, 2013, VDH entered into a contract with Ancestry to index and digitize vital records. FamilySearch is designated as a subcontractor to be used by Ancestry for indexing and is expected to do the bulk of the indexing through volunteers.

The contract calls for the indexing and digitization to be completed by June 1, 2015. It is expected, as a practical matter, that the work will be done in chronological batches, with the oldest vital records (1853-1896) being done first. It is also contemplated that once batches are completed, the processed records will be turned over to the Library of Virginia – and possibly the digitized images and partial index will be made available at that time. VDH and LVA have not yet completed a necessary memorandum of understanding regarding VDH access to the records, but this is expected soon.

By late spring 2014 we shall have a better idea of how the process is coming along, and whether indexed and digitized batches will be available online at LVA prior to the final completion date.


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