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Hamilton County News

Posted on: September 7, 2023

Hamilton County Marks Bicentennial with Digitization of Vital Records

County Birth Record Book

Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce Records Date Back Nearly 200 Years 

As Hamilton County proudly commemorates its Bicentennial Anniversary, it also celebrates the preservation of nearly two centuries' worth of vital records. The Hamilton County Health Department and the County Clerk’s office are charged with the safekeeping of hundreds of thousands of important documents – some dating back to the 19th century when Hamilton County became a county. 

“These records are like time capsules, allowing us to glimpse the lives of those who came before us," says Kathy Williams, County Clerk, and co-chair of the Hamilton County Bicentennial Commission. "They remind us of the struggles, triumphs, and enduring spirit that have defined our community for two centuries.”  

All persons born in Hamilton County after 1882 have written birth and death certificates on file with the Health Department. Hamilton County did not require birth and death records prior to that time.  Records between 1882 and 1968 were handwritten in bound books that are now kept in fire-proof safes.  

“These books are treasure troves of information,” says Susie Swenson, Vital Records Clerk at the Health Department. “For example, we know by looking at them that the primary causes of death in the 1800’s were Diphtheria, Scarlet Fever, and Typhoid Fever. These diseases are all but non-existent because of the advent of vaccinations, improved living conditions, and antibiotics.”   

The Health Department has successfully digitized birth and death records as far back as 1920. It is working diligently to digitize the rest. So too, is the Clerk’s Office, the official record-keeper for all county-level court cases, as well as documents related to immigration, marriage, divorce, estates, wills, and criminal records.  

“These records are the living threads that connect us to our past,” says Williams. “For example, we know Jacob Winter and Elizabeth Cotlin were the first couple in Hamilton County issued a marriage license. They were married by a Justice of the Peace on June 9, 1843.” 

While the hand-written bounded books aren’t open to the public, requests can be made to both agencies for copies of the records they contain. 

Anyone needing a copy of a birth or death record, must complete the application below. Hamilton County Birth and Death Certificates are issued Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hamilton County Health Department.

Anyone needing documents related to immigration, marriage, divorce, expungements, estates, wills, and criminal records, should complete the Clerk's Records Request Form

“Preserving our history is not just a duty, but a privilege,” Williams adds. “We are proud to be the keepers of such valuable information and will do all we can to ensure our residents have access to these records for hundreds of years to come.” 

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