Vital Records in Kentucky
The Government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky kept no birth, marriage, or death records prior to 1852. The first vital statistics law, passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in January, 1852, required the Auditor’s Office assessors of the tax to record births, marriages, and deaths each year as they assessed property for the tax. The Auditor’s Office never did the job well, and constantly complained about this additional task assigned it. This vital statistics law was repealed in 1862.
The original lists, returns, and certificates of birth, marriages, and deaths which survive are in the State Archives. They are arranged by county and are for the years 1852-1859.
Between 1862 and 1911, when the present Office of Vital Statistics was established, several attempts were made to again require the recording of births, marriages, and deaths at the state government level. Some records for 1874-1878 survive as a result of a second vital statistics law. A few scattered records exist for the years 1860-1873 and 1879-1911. These records arranged by county and date, are also in the State Archives.
Presently, the Office of Vital Statistics maintains birth and death certificates dating from 1911 and marriage certificates dating from 1958. The original birth and death certificates are on file with:
Office of Vital Statistics 
275 East Main Street - 1E-A
Frankfort, KY 40621
Phone (502) 564-4212
Fax (877) 435-5584
Copies are available from that office for a fee and can be requested by mail, online, or by phone.
The LPL Kentucky Room holds microfilm collections that include records from these periods:
- Lexington-Fayette County death certificates 1894-1910, and death records in register format for the years 1852-1856, 1858-59, 1861, 1886-1902 (only a few for 1886 1888, none for 1887)
- Lexington-Fayette County birth certificates 1906-1910, and birth records in register format 1852-59, 1861
- Kentucky Death Certificates, 1911-1959 (statewide) 
Marriage certificates have also been maintained at the local government level by the county clerk of each county since the founding date of the county. With few exceptions, these records are in good order. To obtain marriage records prior to 1958, contact the appropriate county clerk. It is possible that the county clerk may also have birth and death data.
The LPL Kentucky Room holds microfilm collections that include these marriage records:
- Lexington-Fayette County marriage bonds – “General”(White), 1803-1898, arranged alphabetically within each year by groom’s last name
- Lexington-Fayette County marriage bonds – “Colored” 1823-1894, arranged alphabetically within each year by groom’s last name
- Lexington-Fayette County marriage records in register format 1852-1859, 1861-1862, 1903-1905; includes groom and bride name
- Lexington-Fayette County Ministers’ bonds, 1795-1852
Kentucky birth and death indexes
- Kentucky Vital Records Index  - Through the University of Kentucky. Includes Kentucky deaths (1911-1992), marriages (1973-1993), and divorces (1973-1993).
- Rootsweb Kentucky Death Records, 1911-2000 
- Ancestry Library Edition  (available only inside the library) includes a variety of online birth, death, and marriage indexes for various Kentucky counties during various time periods.
- Microfiche - The office discontinued printed indexes after 1969 and replaced them with a microfiche index. The Kentucky Room contains a set of birth and death microfiche covering births state-wide (1911-1995, indexed by name of child and by name of mother) and state-wide deaths (1911-1995). This microfiche set also includes a marriage index by bride or groom (1973-1995), and divorces by wife (1974-1995).
- Bound Volumes - The Kentucky Room contains 130 printed bound volumes of birth and death indexes that were created by the Office of Vital Statistics, Cabinet for Human Resources, Frankfort, Kentucky, for the period 1911-1969. Within the printed indexes, birth and deaths for a five-year period are combined into one alphabetical index in the earlier volumes. Deaths in some volumes are distinguished by boldface type while in others deaths are distinguished by the lack of the mother’s name. Births and deaths are listed in separate volumes beginning in 1939.
Users are advised that the birth and death indexes contain many errors. Please be aware of the disclaimer printed on each volume:
The information contained in the indexes may not be accurate and these volumes do NOT represent an up-to-date listing of Kentucky births and deaths.
* Some of this information was prepared by the Public Records Division, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives .