Statewide vital registration in Vermont began in 1857 when the General Assembly passed legislation requiring towns to report all births, marriages and deaths to the Secretary of State. Prior to that time, some towns kept such records in order to resolve questions concerning the distribution and inheritance of property.
Vital records – particularly death records – became recognized as an important tool for studying the location and spread of epidemics. In 1896, the Legislature transferred responsibility for the vital statistics system to the newly formed Board of Health, currently known as the Vermont Department of Health. The Health Department has retained responsibility for vital statistics to the present day. Since 2000, the Vermont vital records system includes eight types of vital events: births, deaths, marriages, civil unions, divorces, dissolutions, fetal deaths and abortions.