Frequently Asked Questions for this Division

About Records Management

  • What is a Public Record?

    “Public record or records’ or ‘state record or records’ means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, microfilms, electronic data processing files and output, films, sound recordings, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency.” T.C.A. § 10-7-301(6)

    The test for determining whether a record is public is “whether it was made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental agency.” Griffin v. City of Knoxville, 821 S.W. 2d 921, 924 (Tenn. 1991).

  • What is a vital record?

    Vital records document significant life events. Vital records include:

    • Marriage Certificates
    • Divorce Certificates
    • Birth Certificates
    • Death Certificates


  • What is the Records Management Division?

    The Records Management Division (RMD) was established by Tennessee Code Annotated 10-7-303 to assist state agencies in establishing systematic controls for the efficient use and sound preservation of state records. The Division serves as the primary records management agency for the state of Tennessee and provides professional consultative and analytical records management leadership to agencies. This guidance aids in the appropriate development, utilization, disposition, retention, and destruction of records.

    The Records Management Division is further directed by the Public Records Commission (PRC) to serve as administrative liaison between state agencies and the PRC; to establish procedural guidelines for paper and electronic records oversight and retention; and to coordinate efforts supporting the state's Paperwork Reduction and Simplification Act of 1976 (TCA 4-25-101).

    What is the Records Disposition Authorizations process?

    Records Disposition Authorizations (RDAs) are record retention guides state agencies follow to maintain their records properly. The Records Management Division oversees the records management process. The Secretary of State’s office online RDA filing system provides users with an easy way to filter, search, and find RDAs and provides retention and destruction method information. Click here to search all effective RDAs.

  • Where can I request a vital record?

    The Tennessee Health Department’s Office of Vital Records reviews, registers, amends, issues and maintains the original certificates of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that occur in Tennessee in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated.

    • Office hours are Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.
    • Tennessee Vital Records
      1st Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
      710 James Robertson Parkway
      Nashville, TN  37243
    • Phone: (615) 741-1763 or (866) 233-0740
    • Website: Tennessee Office of Vital Records
  • Who do I contact when making a public records request

    State agencies are required by law, T.C.A 10-7-503(a)(2)(B), to have a designated Public Records Request Coordinator. This person is the designated contact for receiving public records requests.  Contact the appropriate agency’s coordinator to request access to that agency’s records.  If you have further questions or need additional assistance, contact: Office of Open Records Counsel

Public Records Commission

  • What is the Public Records Commission?

    The Public Records Commission was created by statute to determine and order the proper disposition of state records. The PRC meets at least twice annually to receive an update report from the Records Management Division and discuss any records projects or outdated policies and procedures. These meetings are open to the public. See TCA §§10-7-301 through 10-7-306.

    Members include:

    • Secretary of State
    • Comptroller of the Treasury
    • State Treasurer
    • Director of Legal Services
    • Commissioner of General Services
    • Attorney General
    • Executive Director of Historical Society
    • Chief Justice of Tennessee Supreme Court

RDA Records

  • What is an RDA?

    RDA means “Records Disposition Authorization”. A Records Disposition Authorization (RDA) defines the proper storage and disposal method for a State record series. It includes a description of the record series, a retention schedule, destruction method, and other information.