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Tennessee Genealogy

If you are looking into Tennessee genealogy, be prepared to hit a few roadblocks when looking for state vital records. They are not that easy to acquire but there are a few ways to get around the restrictions.

Tennessee Vital Records

The state collection of birth, death and marriage records begins in 1914 for the most part. Getting a copy of a record is a easy as sending a request form but there are some document choices to be made, and privacy restrictions to understand.

For birth records, you will have to be an immediate relative to order a certified copy of the record. That means you have to be the spouse, child or parent. You can also make a request for your own file. These records come in either long form or short form after 1949. Pre-1949 are all long form. The short forms are a shortened transcript that may not have all the details included (pre-1976 short forms do not have parental details for example). The fees for the long form are $15 and the short is $8.

For anyone who is not an immediate relative, you still have hope. For $15, you can order a non-certified handwritten form that provides you with the information that was on the original record. This will be issued to anyone.

There are similar options for death records. Only immediate family members can order a certified copy but verification letters can be requested by anyone. They are both going to cost you $7 to order. Marriage records also come in two forms, but their costs are $15 for either one.

To place a document request, download the forms from the State Health Department website. Send the completed paperwork, including your own ID and the fees to the Vital Records office in Nashville. They accept mailed in or personally dropped of applications. Mailed in ones can take more than a month but the counter will get your documents while you wait.

Tennessee State Library and Archives

Once you have gotten all the Tennessee genealogy information that you can from the vital records, you can turn your attention to the collections at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Their holdings are extensive, and you can have access to old maps, newspaper archives, personal manuscripts, census records, funeral home documents, obituaries, published bibliographies, phone directories, inmate records, county judicial records and military records from several different wars.

They are located in Nashville, and the reading room is open from Tuesday until Saturday during business hours. Backpacks are not permitted in the reading room and will have to be checked.

Tennessee Genealogy Groups

There are several groups dedicated to genealogy study in Tennessee and they can be great resources. They often have private collections of material and even the other members are a resource in themselves.

The two main groups for the state are the Tennessee Genealogical Society and the Tennessee Historical Commission. There are also regional groups like the Midwest Tennessee Genealogy Society and many smaller societies for individual counties.

State Resources

Bible Records

Census Records


Crime and Criminals

Databases & Indexes 

Death Records and Obituaries


Land Records

  • Tennessee Land History   Tennessee was settled. Tennessee is very interesting in terms of how it grew, and how its land was surveyed and granted. A full treatment is beyond the scope of this introductory article, but you can get an idea of some of the forces at work



  • First Tennessee and Alabama Independent Vidette Cavalry  Photos and biographies of southern men from Alabama and Tennessee who served with the Union Army during the Civil War in the First Tennessee and Alabama Independent Vidette Cavalry.
  • Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications: Soldiers And Widows    Index to applications for veterans and widow's pensions.  The application lists the veteran's place of enlistment, unit, period of service, battles participated in, and whether he was wounded or captured, as well as place of birth, number and gender of children, and value of personal and real property.
  • Tennessee in the Civil War   The purpose of this page is to create a virtual central repository for information about Tennessee in the American Civil War
  • Tennessee World War I Veterans     The data contained in this site was taken from Record Group 36, the compiled service records of soldiers and sailors who served in the First World War from Tennessee. Information on individual servicemen and women came from the files of Major Rutledge Smith, Chairman of the National Council of Defense for Tennessee, World War I; from the office of the Adjutant General of Tennessee, 1933-1937; and from the report of the Provost Marshal General to the Secretary of War, 1917-1918.


Other Resources

Tennessee Maps

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