Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the state archives? When are you open?

Do you have birth and death records?

Do you have marriage records?

Do you have divorce records?

Do you have adoption records?

Do you have church records?

What Mississippi censuses do you have? Are they indexed?

Do you have census records from other states?

How can I obtain a Civil War service record or pension application? Do you have unit histories?

What newspapers do you have? Are they indexed?

I have an old document. Can you tell me how much it is worth?

I found arrowheads, artifacts, etc. on my property. Who do I contact?

I am a student writing a report on Mississippi. How can I get information on the state?

Does Mississippi have a genealogical society I can join?

Where is the state archives? When are you open?

The MDAH library is located in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building at 200 North Street, just north of the Old Capitol Museum in downtown Jackson. Our hours are Monday 9-5, Tuesday - Friday 8-5, and Saturday 8-1. The Archival and Media Reading Rooms close at 4:30 on weekdays, and 12:30 on Saturday. We are closed for the following holidays:

  • January 1 (New Years Day)
  • Last Monday in May (Memorial Day)
  • First Monday in September (Labor Day)
  • Fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving Day)
  • December 25 (Christmas Day)

By proclamation of the governor, the Reading Rooms may be closed at additional times.

Do you have birth and death records?

Births and deaths in Mississippi were not recorded officially until November 1912. All birth and death records 1912-present are in the custody of the State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, P.O. Box 1700, Jackson, MS 39215.

We do have copies of the Department of Health's death certificates November 1912-1943 on microfiche. You may write to request a search for a death record. We do not have a cumulative index — most years are indexed separately.

Although we do not have birth and death records from before 1912, we do have other resources, such as censuses, cemetery records, and obituaries, that can be used to determine when a person was born or died.

Do you have marriage records?

Yes. Our marriage records are on microfilm in our county records. The years we have vary from county to county since many county courthouse records have been destroyed.

When writing to request marriage records, please include (if known):

  • groom's name
  • bride's name (maiden name if known)
  • county of marriage
  • date of marriage
  • race

Do you have divorce records?

Divorces before 1840 were decided by the legislature. We have an index to session acts 1817-1865 that lists divorces.

Later divorce records are filed in the county where the divorce took place. You may contact the chancery clerk in the county where your ancestor lived when the divorce took place to find his or her record.

Do you have adoption records?

We do not have adoption records. Adoption records prior to 1955 are considered open records and can be found in the county where the adopting parents lived.

Do you have church records?

We do have some church records, and they are indexed by denomination, church name, and county.

What Mississippi censuses do you have? Are they indexed?

The MDAH library has on microfilm all federal censuses for Mississippi 1820-1930, with the exception of the 1890 census, which burned. The censuses 1820-1870 are indexed in printed form, while the remainder are indexed using the Soundex system on microfilm.

We also have some territorial and state censuses, few of which have been indexed. They were generally not taken at the same time as the federal census; they list names of heads of households and numbers of family members in specific age groups. Some counties are not represented.

When writing for census records, please include as much of this information as you can:

  • full name of person being searched
  • county of residence
  • head of household's name
  • family members' names
  • race
  • years you would like searched
  • approximate age in the census year or birth date
  • sex

To obtain census records after 1930, write to the Bureau of Census, P. O. Box 1545, Jeffersonville, IN 47131. Ask for form BC-600.

Do you have census records from other states?

We have federal census records through 1840 for Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia; through 1850 for Louisiana and Tennessee; and through 1860 for Alabama, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.

How can I obtain a Civil War service record or pension application? Do you have unit histories?

We have the National Archives microfilm of the compiled service records of soldiers serving in Mississippi units, both Confederate and Union.

We have many Confederate pension applications filed by veterans and their widows living in Mississippi after the war.

Hints for finding Confederate pension applications:

  • The first pensions were not paid by the state until 1888.
  • Only the veteran or his widow could apply, not his children or parents.
  • Application was made in the state where the veteran or widow lived, no matter which state he served from. Only the former Confederate states and Oklahoma paid Confederate pensions.
  • Pensions were based on financial hardship. For veterans this was usually a disability affecting his ability to make a living.

When submitting a request for a service record or pension application, please provide the following when possible:

  • soldier’s full name
  • age or year of birth
  • county of residence at the time of enlistment
  • widow's name
  • unit designation or commanding officer's name
  • branch of service or commanding officer's name
  • indicate if a prisoner, died in war, or an officer
  • place of burial and date of death

What newspapers do you have? Are they indexed?

We have a large collection of newspapers (dating from as early as 1801) as well as most of the current newspapers available in Mississippi.

Our newspapers are not indexed but our holdings are searchable.

I have an old document. Can you tell me how much it is worth?

We do not appraise documents. Contact your local library to ask for an appraiser in your area.

I found arrowheads, artifacts, etc. on my property. Who do I contact?

For Indian and other prehistoric items, contact the Historic Preservation Division; for Civil War and other historic items, contact the Museum of Mississippi History.

I am a student writing a report on Mississippi. How can I get information on the state?

Email MDAH with your request and mailing address, and we will send you a packet of information about the state. You may also wish to request the excellent Mississippi Souvenir Booklet from the Secretary of State’s office or download it from their Web site. The Mississippi Division of Tourism and Office of the Governor also send information to students.

Does Mississippi have a genealogical society I can join?

The Family Research Association of Mississippi is the statewide genealogical organization. FRA’s address is P.O. Box 13334, Jackson, MS 39236-3384. Many counties also have genealogical or local history societies. For more information, please visit rootsweb's listing of Mississippi Genealogical and Historical Societies, or the Federation for Mississippi Historical Society's member listing pages.

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