While many states are raising fees and making vital records more difficult to get, Arizona is going against the grain to improve your access to its records. The state Department of Health Services has unveiled a free, searchable online database <genealogy.az.gov> of 400,000 birth and death records — including images of the certificates.
You can search by an individual’s first and last names, and check options to search for the same first or last name (or both) of the person’s parents. Sort results by name, birth date, death date, father’s or mother’s name, and county. Clicking on the individual’s name launches a PDF image of the certificate. (You’ll need the free Adobe Reader software, downloadable from <www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html>, to view the image.)
In Arizona, birth certificates are sealed for 75 years after issue, and death certificates for 50 years. The online database contains birth records spanning 1887 to 1928; and death records, 1878 to 1953. Before the site launched, genealogists had to pay $3 per request, then wait up to three weeks. The Mesa Regional Family History Center, a branch of the Family History Library <www.familysearch.org>, teamed up with the Arizona State Library’s archives department to develop the site, which cost $25,000.
From the August 2004 issue of Family Tree Magazine.