A Public Service Announcement: Iowa Vital Records, 1920-1941

From the early 1920s to the early 1940s, many were born, got married, or died in every county in Iowa. Unfortunately, the county courthouses—and the public libraries, like ours, that archive microfilmed copies of county documents– won’t have many records of them doing so.

You see, during this time period, Iowa law didn’t require County Clerks to keep copies of vital records certificates or enter them into the county registers. They were simply required to collect the documentation and send it to the state.

Many Clerks did keep on writing down these events in the county ledger books when they had a spare moment, at least for a while.* Making it even more confusing and frustrating for future genealogists, each Clerk completely stopped entering his county’s vital records at different times—so some counties have more of these ‘county optional’ vital records, and some have less.

In Scott County, the Clerk stopped entering births in 1924, marriages in 1926, and deaths in 1931. However, many certificates were not entered before they were sent on, so Scott County vital records are sketchy after 1920.

By 1940, the law changed back again. The Scott County Clerk dusted off his ledgers and began entering births again in April of 1941, marriages in February, and deaths in July. Most other County Clerks did the same, though the months may vary.

But if you are looking for an Iowa vital record for this twenty-year span, and the county didn’t catch it, do not despair! You may be able to order it through the Iowa Bureau of Health Statistics.

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*A researcher might note that short spans of these records were often entered alphabetically, possibly because they had already been sorted for the state

(posted by Sarah)

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One Response to A Public Service Announcement: Iowa Vital Records, 1920-1941

  1. Rogers Pruitt says:

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