Family detectives tracing their records can get documents from Iowa’s Bureau of Vital Statistics on-line, as the state makes more information available on the Internet. Bureau Chief Jill France says most people assume they’ll begin with birth certificates when tracking an ancestor who lived in the state. She says it wasn’t until the 1940s that the state required birth certificates to be placed on file. But other documents may also turn up valuable data for Iowans tracing their family tree. Marriage records may well be easier to find, since the state required a license to get married and the records will be more complete. France says death certificates are also a good target for a search in the bureau of vital statistics. Each document you request from the state will cost ten-dollars, whether their search turns up the certificate or not. France says since the early 90s, a collaboration has been making a database of old records that were never put into the state’s archives. The Genealogy Society of Utah went to each county courthouse and photographed records 75 years or more old, and local volunteer genealogists spent a lot of time “purging” duplicate and nonpublic information so the films could all be placed on file at the state genealogical society library in Des Moines. You must have a “direct lineage,” be the immediate family or close relative of the person whose records you’re searching, like aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, or a first cousin.
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