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Hawaiʻi - Genealogy Research

Background Info

Births & Marriages - In 1842, births and marriages were required by law to be recorded, but many early records did not survive. In 1896, the Department of Health (DOH) became responsible for registering births and marriages. Prior to 1896, marriage records were kept by other government agencies and are now at the Hawaiʻi State Archives (HSA) or the DOH. Some marriage records by missionaries are at the HSA, while some are still at the ceremony churches. In the early territorial years, marriage licenses were granted, those are found at the HSA. Between 1911-1972, a person born in Hawaiʻi but whose births was not registered could apply for a Delayed (Hawaiian) Birth Certificate. Originals of birth and marriage records/licenses are at the DOH and the HSA. The applications of Delayed Birth Certificates can be found at Family History Centers. To find these records, look for your ancestor's name in the appropriate indexes and then go to the appropriate repository to retrieve the records.

Deaths - In 1859, deaths were required by law to be registered, but few records exist. In 1896, the DOH became responsible for recording and managing death records. To obtain these records, you need to submit a request with the DOH that has the death year. If you do not know the death year, consult cemetery indexes and/or look for obituaries, which appear as early as 1836, in the newspaper full-text databases and indexes. You may also find death records in the probate and wills, which are indexed and located at the HSA.

FamilySearch

The Department of Health has many internal indexes that are only accessible by their staff members. However, FamilySearch has microfilmed many of these indexes and have made them partially available online, grouping them in the categories listed below. The specific indexes within each category is also listed for reference. Note that some are locked, meaning it is not searchable. Within all the categories, you will also find digitized birth, marriage, and death notices from the Hawaiʻi State Archives. If you find an entry, you will then need to submit a request with the Department of Health to purchase the record.

Hawaiʻi State Archives

The main genealogy-related collection at the Hawaiʻi State Archives for vital records is the Vital Statistics Collection, which contains reports of vital statistics and other records. Although vital statistics were required by law, the statistics were under reported, making this collection—especially the early years— incomplete. Much of the collection is searchable online but you may need to consult the Hawaiʻi State Archives card catalog of indexed birth and death records too. 

  • Birth, Marriage, and Death Records (Available Online but missing Maui and Oahu)
    • Birth: Hawaiʻi 1853-1861, 1869-1897, 1900; Maui 1860-1864, 1899; Niihau 1853-1856; Oahu 1852-1885
    • Marriage: All islands ~ 1826-1929
    • Death: Hawaiʻi 1853-1898; Maui 1860-1864, 1897-1899; Niihau 1852, 1855-1856; Oahu 1852-1873
    • Index of birth and death records on card catalog; index of marriage records index (Available Online but only marriages)
  • Marriage Certificates (Available on Microfilm)
    • Oahu: First Circuit 1900-1949 on Microfilm MFL 70, alpha by groom
    • Maui, Molokai, Lanai: Second Circuit 1905-1949 on Second Circuit Court Marriage Indexes, records at DOH
    • Hawaiʻi: Third Circuit 1905-1950 on Microfilm MFL 71, alpha by groom
    • Kauai, Niihau: Fifth Circuit 1905-1949 on Register of Marriage Certificates, 5th Circuit Courts, records on Microfilm MFL 72
  • Index to Births, Marriages, and Deaths [Notices] in Newspapers prior to 1950 (Available Online but only births)
    • Partial index of notices published in Pacific Commercial AdvertiserHonolulu Advertiser, Friend, Hawaiian Gazette, Independent, Ka Hae Hawaii, Polynesian, and Honolulu Star-Bulletin
  • Divorce Records (Available Online but only Index)
    • Oahu: First Circuit 1851-1908 on Microfilm MFL 51
    • Maui, Molokai, Lanai: Second Circuit 1848-1900 on Microfilm MFL 54
    • Hawaiʻi: Third Circuit 1854-1899 on Microfilm MFL 56
    • Hawaiʻi: Fourth Circuit 1890-1899 on Microfilm MFL 58
    • Kauai, Niihau: Fifth Circuit 1852-1899 on Microfilm MFL 60

Hawaiʻi State Library Main Branch

In the Hawaiʻi and Pacific Collection, there are a number of indexes in print and on microfilm that of records and indexes held at the Hawaiʻi State Archives and Department of Health. All those microfilms are searchable in FamilySearch. See the Department of Health section for details.

  • Delayed Birth Record Index, 1859-1938 (Available in Print)
    • Certificate of Hawaiian Birth Program ("delayed birth registration") began in 1911 to register a person born in Hawaii who was one year old or older and whose birth was not previously registered. Includes many births prior to 1911. Earliest is 1859 and latest is 1970. Program terminated in 1972 and replaced by Late Birth Registration. Certified Copies available at Department of Health. Application available on microfilm at Family History Centers.
  • Territory of Hawaii Births, 1896-1909 (Available in Print)
    • Print copy of index by child and parent names.
  • Birth Index, 1909-1914, 1946-1948 (Available on Microfilm)
    • On microfilm, available in genealogy drawer.
  • Birth Certificates, 1909-1911, 1921 (Available on Microfilm)
    • On microfilm, available in genealogy drawer.

Hamilton Library

The only items the Hawaiian Collection has are copies of indexes from the Hawaiʻi State Archives and the Department of Health. The first two items are searchable in FamilySearch. For the last item, only the years 1904-1909 is searchable in FamilySearch. See the Department of Health section for details.

  • Index to Birth and Marriage Notices Published in the Hawaiʻi Newspapers, 1850-1950 (Available on Microfilm)
    • Microfilm copy of Hawaiʻi State Archives card catalog, arranged alphabetically, partial index.
  • Index to Obituaries published in Hawaiʻi's newspapers 1836-1950 (Available on Microfilm)
    • Microfilm copy of Hawaiʻi State Archives card catalog, arranged alphabetically, partial index.
  • Territory of Hawaii Births, 1896-1909 (Available in Print)
    • Print copy of index by child and parent names on Hawaiian Reference Shelves.