Madison County Courthouse holds official birth records from 1880
through June 1904, and July 1906 through
current. Certain restrictions on release of data apply to the
County Recorders. For more information on these restrictions,
The two years Jul 1904 to Jun 1906 are held by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
In early 2017, the birth records held by the state were made available
and have been incorporated in the Birth List with the
source being Iowa State Birth Record (ISBR). To request a birth certificate from the IDPH, click here.
MCBR - Madison
County Birth Records: The recording of official birth records
began in Jul 1880. The births were recorded in large books in
the County Recorder's office. A separate book was used to record
stillbirths which the state has sealed from access. There was no enforcement of birth registration and
large numbers of births went unregistered in the 1800s and a
significant number were not recorded all the way up to 1920.
- Iowa Delayed Certificate of
Birth: For those folks who were not registered at birth (and
there were many), Iowa would issue a delayed certificate of
birth if applied for. Images of these documents are available on line
(FamilySearch.org & Ancestry) and have been incorporated in the
Birth List. In
processing these records, it appears that as often as not, the
place of birth noted in the record is the Post Office and not
necessarily the township or in some cases, the county where they
were born. Quite a few IDCBs have been found where
Earlham was listed as their place of birth when Dallas County
was the reality. Also, some St. Charles births were in reality Warren
County births. As much as possible, these births have been
weeded out of the Madison County Birth List. Researchers should
use caution when using the IDCB to verify place of birth and
should do additional research where the birth appears to be
close to the county line.
- Iowa State Birth Records:
These records cover the two year period Jul 1904 - Jun 1906 when
all births were to be recorded at the state level rather than at
the county. Transcriptions of these documents were made available
by the state in 2017 and have been incorporated in the Birth
List. In 2020, more years of state birth records became available
and are being used in conjunction with county records when we
add a new year's worth of records. The exact nature of the data in the documents is unknown
but the transcriptions do not provide the given name of the
father nor the mother, only the mother's maiden name. The given
names, where known, have been added in red
font by the County Coordinator to make finding your
Birth Record Sources
birth record sources are published records that may contain
information pertaining to a person's birth but may require
research from multiple sources to complete the record. For
example, state censuses in 1885 and 1895 showed county of birth
but not a specific date. County marriage records sometimes
showed county of birth but again, not a specific date of birth.
Social Security Applications show date of birth but not the
specific place. Early newspapers usually lacked the given name
and exact date of birth. The point is that when the source
listed is not an official record, then research took place to
piece together the birth record and the user should not take the
information at face value but should do their own due diligence
to verify the information.
- The 1885 and 1895 Iowa State Censuses recorded each persons
county of birth if born in Iowa. For the most part, the
enumerators did a good job of following the instructions.
Unfortunately, for Madison County, several townships of the 1885
census were lost so that data is unavailable. Sometimes, but
rarely, county of birth was recorded in the 1905 and/or 1915
state censuses. Any birth with "Census" in the source column
has been verified in at least one of these four censuses as
having been born in Madison County.
- County Marriage Records: After Jul 1880, more extensive data
was recorded in the county marriage records including place of
birth. Many of these records contain county of birth and are
used to source the place of birth in our Birth List if no other
source is available.
Registration: Some WWI draft registration forms and all WWII
draft registration forms have place of birth listed on them and
have been used to verify county of birth in our Birth List.
Caution is advised because place of birth on these forms was
often interpreted as nearest Post Office rather than actual
county of birth and this could cause confusion if the person
lived close to the county line and received mail through a P. O.
in an adjacent county.
Many births that did not get registered were mentioned in the
county's newspapers, almost universally without given name.
Newspaper mentions of births have been used as sources for place
of birth where no better source has been found.
Published obituaries often list date and place of birth and is a
resource you can turn to when no other records exist.
Security Application: Place of birth was a requirement
on Social Security Applications and has been used as source data
when no other is available.
Death Record: State death records usually have the person's
date and place of birth although often, place of birth may list
a state without further detail. Birth information for Death
Records and Obituaries usually comes from a surviving relative
of the deceased so there is a chance for inaccuracy.
Despite all of the available ways to source birthplace, many
births have been found to be unverifiable. Our Birth List
includes persons whom, mostly through census data, appear to
have been born in Madison County but no credible source has been
found to confirm it.
This category includes likely Madison County births where
the person has no formal birth registration and was not alive
when a census could have proved place of birth.