New Hampshire Vital records are recorded in each city or town clerk’s office. New vital events are recorded and filed at New Hampshire Department of State, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics, 29 Hazen Dr., Concord, NH 03301. However, the first time that statewide vital event recording was required was in 1866. At that time, a new law required that each town’s vital events be included in a report made out by the secretary of state. It wasn’t until the 1880s that the law was fully established and all towns began routinely recording vital records. However, several of them still didn’t report those records to the secretary of state. The Bureau of Vital Records was established in 1905, finally making statewide recording a uniform process.
The Family History Library (FHL), the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and the Bureau of Vital Records each have card files and microfilmed collections of New Hampshire vital statistics on file. Many of those records have been compiled and alphabetically arranged, based on early vital records from New Hampshire’s various towns. That compilation includes many pre-1905 vital records for the state, but not all town records are included, since some towns did not submit their records to the Bureau of Vital Records. So, researchers should still check the official records of the town clerk in the town of interest.
The Bureau of Vital records has files that include divorce records beginning in the 1870s and ending in 1948. They also have marriage and death records for those same years, as well as all recorded birth records for the state prior to 1901. There are some statutory restrictions for getting access to New Hampshire birth records. However, records can be searched in the city or town clerk’s office, if applicable.
Sometimes children were not given a name when they were born. Children named after the fact were listed in the records of the city or town offices after the fact. That occurred a lot in the latter part of the 1800s. There were also cases, especially among French-Canadians, where children were given a different name when Baptized than they were given in the state records. Those baptismal names were usually “Marie” or “Joseph,” depending on whether the child was male or female.
Several New Hampshire towns have printed vital records available. Those towns are: Colebrook (1873-86), Croydon (to 1900), Danville (1760-1886), Dover (1640-1850), Hampton (to 1900), Hampton Falls (to 1899), Keene (1742-1881), Laconia Marriages (1826-92), Londonderry (to 1910), South Hampton (1743-1886).
Priscilla Hammond prepared several vital record typescripts of records from towns in southeastern New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Historical Society has those records on file. Some can also be found at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Annual town reports were created. Each one contains the previous year’s vital records for the town. The New Hampshire State Library has a complete record of those files. Each city or town clerk’s office also has their particular records on file.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) completed an every-name card index for pre-1850 town records on microfilm at about the same times that the New Hampshire town records microfilming project was finished. Records from as far back as 1640 include some marriages, births, and deaths. However, those records are incomplete and recorded in inconsistent ways. The New Hampshire State Library is home to the original card index for those records. The FHL and the New England Historic Genealogical Society each have the WPA index and the town records on microfilm. However, it is important to note that the town of Exeter was not included in the index.