How Do I Find Birth Certificates?

STATE BIRTH RECORDS

The state of Tennessee did not begin keeping birth records state-wide until 1908.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has state-wide birth records for the years 1908-1912 and 1914-1917. Instructions & forms for ordering a search of these birth records can be found in Ordering Birth Records.

State-wide birth records for the years 1918 - present are held by the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.

 

CITY BIRTH RECORDS

The four larger cities in Tennessee -- Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis -- did keep earlier birth records for their specific communities. In most cases, the records cover the cities themselves and do not include suburbs or other communities in the county. The Tennessee State Library and Archives has copies of the early city birth records for Nashville (1881-1907), Knoxville (1881-1907), Chattanooga (1879-1907), and Memphis (1874-1883). Instructions & forms for ordering a search of these birth records can be found in Ordering Birth Records.

The Shelby County Register of Deeds has posted an online index to Shelby County birth records for the years 1874-1906.

Memphis city birth records for 1884-1907 can be obtained from the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department, Division of Vital Records, 814 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis TN 38105 or by calling (901) 544-7730.

The Metro Archives of Nashville and Davidson County has posted an online index to Nashville city birth records for 1881 - 1913 and an online index to Davidson County birth records for 1908-1912.

PLEASE NOTE: Ancestry.com, in partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has added an index to and scanned images of the city birth records of Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga for 1881-1915. The indexes to these records at Ancestry.com's Tennessee State Library and Archives web page can be viewed by all. RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE who are not members of Ancestry.com can view the scanned copies of the records by first going to the Tennessee Electronic Library, clicking on the Genealogy tab, and then clicking on Tennessee Records;  the scans of the city birth records can then be viewed after a free log-in on the Ancestry site. The indexes and images are free to Tennessee residents.  Individuals who subscribe to Ancestry.com can also view the scanned records. 

 

DELAYED BIRTH RECORDS

When the Social Security Administration was created in 1935, the agency asked for birth certificates as proof the applicant qualified for entry into the program. Most Tennesseans who wished to apply, however, were born prior to the 1908 law that first required the keeping of birth certificates. Beginning in 1935, Tennessee began to issue Delayed Birth Certificates. These certificates were not issued automatically; the applicant had to request the record from the state, and must supply supporting documents or letters.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has copies of the Delayed Birth Certificates for the birth years 1869-1917. The Library and Archives will accept e-mail requests to search the index to the Delayed Birth Certificates. Please include the name of the individual, an approximate date or year of birth, the county of birth (if known), and (if known) the name of the mother. We also ask that you include your name, city and state with your request. The Library and Archives will accept only one request at a time to search for a single record; once you receive a response to your request, you may send in your next request, and so on.  Visit the Ask Us a Question! web page to submit your request. The Library and Archives will respond to e-mail requests promptly; response time may vary, depending on the amount of research required to answer your question and the unique nature of your request. If you need immediate assistance you may call the reference desk at (615) 741-2764 or visit us in person.

PLEASE NOTE: Ancestry.com, in partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has added an index to and scanned images of the 1869-1909 delayed birth records of Tennessee. The indexes to these records at Ancestry.com's Tennessee State Library and Archives web page can be viewed by all. RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE who are not members of Ancestry.com can view the scanned copies of the records by first going to the Tennessee Electronic Library, clicking on the Genealogy tab, and then clicking on Tennessee Records;  the scans of the delayed birth records can then be viewed after a free log-in on the Ancestry site. The indexes and images are free to Tennessee residents. Individuals who subscribe to Ancestry.com can also view the scanned records. 

Delayed Birth Certificates for the birth years 1918 - present are held by the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.

The records at the Tennessee State Library and Archives are open to the public. You are welcome to come in 8:00 am - 4:30 pm (Central Time) Tuesday through Saturday to search the birth records yourself & make your own copies for research. Please see the Tennessee State Library and Archives Visitors Page for information on directions, parking, and holiday hours.

Please note: Archival materials are available for retrieval between the hours of 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. If you know you will need materials between 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, please call ahead to the Public Services section at 615-741-2764 or visit the Ask Us a Question! web page. We will do our best to accommodate your request.

 

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