Utah Records Details and Resources

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Though birth and death registration was required beginning in 1905, compliance at the state level took another 12 years. You can contact the Bureau of Vital Records, Utah State Department of Health, Box 141010, Salt Lake City, UT 84114, The website offers information on how to order certificates and supplies the necessary forms. You’ll also want to search at the county level. Some counties began to keep birth and death records as early as 1898. Salt Lake City, Ogden and Logan have also kept birth and death records at the city level.

Marriage records are kept on the county level, with a few existing before 1887 in the justice of the peace or probate court records. The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, an anti-polygamy law, required that all marriages be registered with the office of the probate court. In the 1890s, registration was moved to the county clerk. The Family History Library (FHL) has microfilm copies of county marriages to about 1960.

Divorce records can be found in several places. Early divorces had to be granted by church leaders. During the territorial period (1852–1895) the federal district courts had jurisdiction, although there is overlap with the probate courts, which also had jurisdiction from 1852 to 1887. After statehood, divorces fell under the auspices of state district courts.

In the early years of settlement, LDS Bishops Courts, also known as Ecclesiastical courts, were responsible for criminal and civil cases for individuals in their wards or churches. These records are found in the Church History Library, 50 E. North Temple St., Room 227E, Salt Lake City, UT 84150,

At the same time Bishops Courts were in effect, there were also civil courts. These included county courts, which were replaced by probate courts in 1851, as well as justice of the peace courts for cases involving less than $300. In 1874, many courts of Utah were restricted, as a result of the attempts to eliminate polygamy. Many civil, criminal, and probate matters were handled in federal district courts until statehood in 1896.

After statehood, Utah was divided into seven districts and state district courts were instituted, though each county has a district court branch. An eighth district was added in 1988. State district courts have jurisdiction over criminal felonies and civil actions, including divorces, custody disputes, adoptions, probate and naturalization.

County-level records for land, probate and court usually begin with the creation of the county, though there are a few exceptions — for instance, Rich County was created in 1864 but its land, probate, and court records begin in 1872.


  • Church Census Records, 1914–1960 from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (filmed by the Family History Library, 1962)
  • Indian Census Rolls, Fort Hall, 1885–1939 from the US Bureau of Indian Affairs (National Archives, 1965)


  • Handcarts to Zion: The Story of a Unique Western Migration, 1856–1860, With Contemporary Journals, Accounts, Reports, and Rosters of Members of the Ten Handcart Companies by LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen (Arthur H. Clark, 1960)
  • Mormons on the High Seas: Ocean Voyage Narratives to American (1840–1890) by Melvin L. Bashire and Linda L. Haslam (Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1990)
  • Mormon Pioneer Companies Crossing the Plains (1847–1868) Narratives: Guide to Sources in Utah Libraries and Archives by Melvin Lee Bashire (Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1990)
  • Naturalization Records, 1853–1989 (Utah State Archives and Records Service, 1989)
  • Saints on the Seas: A Maritime History of Mormon Migration, 1830–1890 by Conway B. Sonne (University of Utah, Press, 1983)
  • Ships, Saints, and Mariners: A Maritime Encyclopedia of Mormon Migration, 1830–1890 by Conway B. Sonne (University of Utah Press, 1987)
  • Worldwide LDS Ship Register 1840–1913 by Margery Taylor (Family History Library, 1991)


  • “Establishing and Maintaining Land Ownership in Utah Prior to 1869” by Lawrence L. Linford in Utah Historical Society Quarterly, vol. 42 (1974) pages 126–43
  • The Mormon Land System: A Study of the Settlement and Utilization of Land Under the Direction of the Mormon Church by Feramorz Young Fox (Utah State Agricultural College, 1955)
  • The Mormon Village: A Pattern and Technique of Land Settlement by Lowry Nelson (University of Utah Press, 1952)
  • Preliminary Inventory of Land Management — Utah by Joel Barker (Denver Archives and Records Center, 1979)


  • Atlas of Utah by Deon C. Greer, et al. (Weber State College, 1981)
  • A Gazetteer of Utah by Henry A. Gannett (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1900)
  • LDS Place Names Gazetteer by Jill Anderson Ward (Family History Library, 1986)
  • Origins of Utah Place Names from the Utah Writer’s Project (State Department of Instruction, 1940)
  • Postal History of Utah, 1849–1976 by Ted Gruber (J-B Publishing Co., 1978)
  • The Post Offices of Utah by John S. Gallagher (The Depot, 1977)
  • Printed Maps of Utah to 1900: An Annotated Cartobibliography by Riley Moore Moffat (Western Association of Map Librarians, 1981)
  • Utah Gazetteer and Directory of Logan, Ogden, Provo and Salt Lake City for 1884 by Robert W. Sloan (Herald Printing and Publishing Co., 1884)
  • Utah: A Guide to the State (Hastings House, 1941)
  • Utah Place Names: A Comprehensive Guide to the Origins of Geographic Names compiled by John E. Van Cott (University of Utah Press, 1990)


  • A Database of the Mormon Battalion by Carl V. Larson (K.W. Watkins, 1987)
  • Johnston, Connor and the Mormons: An Outline of Military History in Northern Utah (Irma Watson Hance and Irene Warr, 1962)
  • Utah and the Civil War by Margaret May Merrill Fisher (Deseret Book Co., 1929)
  • Utah in the World War by Noble Warrum (Utah State Council of Defense, 1924)


  • Cemeteries in Utah by Irvin C. McClay (Utah State Archives and Records Service, 1980)
  • Cemetery Records of Utah, 13 vols. (Genealogical Society of Utah, 1953)
  • Guide to Public Vital Statistics of Utah (Utah Historical Records Survey, 1941)
  • An Inventory and Index to the Records of Carson County, Utah and Nevada Territories, 1855–1861 by Marion Ellison (Grace Dangberg Foundation, 1984)
  • Marriages in Utah Territory, 1850–1884: From the Deseret News, 1850–1872, and the Elias Smith Journals, 1850–1884 by Judith Woolstenhume Hansen (Utah Genealogical Association, 1998)
  • Obituary Index File to the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News as of 31 December 1970 (filmed by the Family History Library, 1971)

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From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.