On August 16, 1909, Missouri began requiring vital records to be filed on the state level. The Missouri Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Records holds the records from that date onward. The bureau’s website has death and birth certificate request applications available for download.
In 1863, a non-compulsory birth registration law was passed. At that time, the recorder of deeds in each county was authorized to record births when such a recording was requested. The marriage or regular deed books for each county hold those records, but they are not indexed, and they are also incomplete.
From 1850 to 1910, deaths were recorded in St. Louis. That city also began recording births on July 12, 1870. That practice continued until 1910. However, only an estimated 60% of deaths and births were recorded during those years. The death and birth registers for St. Louis from that time period can be found on microfilm at the Missouri State Archives. Researchers should right to St. Louis City Vital Records/Recorder of Deeds, City Hall in order to request certified copies of death and birth certificates from 1870 onward.
As of 1883, it was required that each county record both deaths and births in Missouri. However, the law was repealed in 1893. During that 10-year span, compliance with the law was sporadic. The registers are available in most county offices, but no two counties are identical as far as thoroughness or recording methods.
There is currently a Missouri Birth and Death Record Database project underway. It is run by volunteers who collect records of stillbirths, births, and deaths. They then organize those records on the Internet. Many of those same records can also be accessed through the Salt Lake City Family History Library (FHL) and the Missouri State Archives.
Some Missouri vital records have been abstracted or indexed on the Ancestry.com website. Those records include the 1850 to 1908 death records for St. Louis, Missouri. The FHL and the Missouri State Archives also have many of those vital records on microfilm.
The county recorder of deeds keeps the marriage records for each county. Marriage licenses in Missouri were not required until June 26, 1881. Prior to that, any courthouse could record a marriage.
The circuit court clerk of the county holds records of divorce. The exception to that is the records for St. Louis. They can be found at the Civil Records Department, Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, as well as at the City Circuit Court Clerk, Civil Courts Building in St. Louis. Marriage dissolution statements from July 1, 1948 to now can be obtained from the Bureau of Vital Records for a small fee. A basic search includes a 5-year time period. The website for the bureau gives more information. The associated circuit clerk office or recorder of deeds are the only places where certified divorce and marriage records can be obtained.