Friday, July 28, 2017

Kentucky Vital Statistics Law of 1852

Kentucky is fortunate to have birth and death records dating back to 1852. While they aren't complete and many contain errors, they can be helpful and are certainly better than having no records at all. The records begin in 1852 and, for most counties, cover 1853-1859. The law was rescinded during the Civil War, but was reinstated in the 1870s. There are few records during the 1880s and 1890s.  Compliance across the state was not consistent until 1911, when it became mandatory in Kentucky to keep a record of these vital statistics.

According to the law,[1] it was the duty of all physicians, surgeons and midwives to keep a registry of all births and deaths at which they had professionally attended, showing, in the case of deaths, the time, place and cause of death, the name, age, sex, color, and condition (whether single, married or widowed), name and surname of parents, occupation, residence, and place of birth of the deceased.  When two or more physicians, surgeons or midwives attended professionally at the event, the oldest one in attendance shall make the registry.

It was the duty of the local assessors, while making their lists of taxable property, to record a list of all births, marriages and deaths which had occurred within their counties in the 12 months ending on the 31st day of December last preceding the time of assessment.

In the case of births, the information on the registry was to include the time and place of birth, name of father and maiden name of mother, their residence, sex and color of the child, together with the child's name and whether born alive or dead. If the birth was for a slave, the owner's name could be given in place of the names of the parents.  The same applied when listing the death of a slave.

The following death record was found in loose papers (Deaths) in the Caldwell County Clerk's Office, Princeton, Kentucky. Click on the record to enlarge the image.

Death Certificate of Samuel Crowder born in Georgia September 23rd 1769, aged Eighty-two years Eleven months and nine days, residing in Caldwell County, Ky, died in Caldwell County Ky, on the second day of September 1852 of Congestive fever. [signed] J.C. Trayler

[1] The Revised Statutes of Kentucky, Vol. II, Approved and Adopted By the General Assembly, 1851 and 1852, and in Force From July 1, 1852, (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1860) Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Chapter 82, p. 234.

Published 28 July 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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