Agency History #1266


In March 1905, the state legislature passed the Vital Statistics Act into law thereby creating the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The legislature created this bureau in order to provide accurate registration of all births and deaths in the state of Utah. The law was framed along the lines recommended by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purpose of securing uniform registration in the various states. (Laws of Utah 1905, chapter 120 p. 209-219)


The department was given the following powers and duties: 1) provide offices properly equipped for the preservation of vital records; 2) establish a statewide system of vital statistics for the registration, collection, preservation, amendment, and certification of vital records, reports, and related activities; 3) create forms for certificates, certification, and other necessary forms; 4) provide for annual compilation, analysis and publication of statistics from vital records; 5) enforce the Vital Statistics Act and the rules; 6) appoint a state registrar of vital statistics to direct the statewide system of vital statistics; 7) divide the state into registration districts; 8) and appoint local registrars for registration districts who under the direction and supervision of the state registrar perform all duties required of them by this chapter and the rules of the department. The State Board has coordinate powers advisory to all local boards of health.

The term "vital records" is currently defined as the collection, compilation, publication, and preservation of data pertaining to births, adoptions, legitimations, deaths, fetal deaths, marriage, divorce, annulment of marriage, morbidity, and data incidental thereto. The bureau became responsible for processing marriage applications after 1917.

Vital records is also a part of a nationwide cooperative system that provides data to the National Center for Health Statistics which is the Federal Government's principal vital and health statistics agency. NCHS plans and administers statistical programs based on the nationwide collection of data from vital records, vital records followback surveys, and demographic surveys of women in the childbearing ages. The center also develops standards for data collection and trains state and local registration areas on registration, statistics, and data processing.


The Bureau of Vital Records is a division of the State Department of Health. Originally, the Bureau reported directly to the Board of Health. In 1995, the Bureau was put under the direction of the newly created Office of Public Health Data. Initially, it was headed by a director who was chosen by the Board of Health. The secretary of the Board of Health was also the director and State registrar. Currently, the Executive Director of the Department of Health hires the director of the Bureau. The State Registrar is charged with the efficient execution of the provisions of the law in every part of the state and has supervisory power over local registrars. Both state and local registrars protect the information on vital records from unwarranted or indiscriminate disclosure.


The city's health council selects a health officer to act as the local registrar. In the case of precincts, the local registrar was originally appointed by the county commissioner for a two year term. In 1981, each county consolidated and created a local health department which in turn appointed the local registrars. Local registrars enforce the law in their districts, under the supervision and direction of the State registrar and they immediately report to the State registrar any violations of the law. They carefully examine each certificate to see that it has been complete in accordance with the provisions of the law. If any certificate is incomplete or unsatisfactory, it is the local registrar's responsibility to call attention to the defects and amend them. All certificates filed with the local registrar are transmitted to the state office of vital statistics. The state office of vital statistics produces annual reports where they present a compilation of the year's results.

In the case of marriage applications, the county clerk is responsible to maintain a copy and transmit the original application to the State registrar.


T.B. Beatty
Eva W. Ramsey
Edward Titus
John Wright
John Brockert 1969-1995
Barry Nangle 1995-present

COMPILED BY: Michelle Call, September 1998


Department of Health Website, Interactive Organization Chart, http://www.health.state.ut.us/html/div_offices.html, May 6, 1999.

Legislature, Laws of Utah, Chapter 120, 1905, (Series 83238), The Vital Statistics Act.

Legislature, Laws of Utah, Chapter 61, 1917, (Series 83238), Marriage Licenses.

National Center for Health Statistics Website, Background, http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww/about/backgrnd/backgrnd.htm, May 7, 1999.

Ibid, Mission Statement, http://www.cdc.gov/maso/nchsfs.htm, May 7, 1999.

Ibid, Organizational Chart, http://www.cdc.gov/nchswww.about/orgchart.htm, May 7, 1999.

Report of the "State Board of Health of Utah for the Biennial Period Ending Dec. 31, 1908, Public Documents 1911-1912 (Series 240), report no. 12. P. xxxi.

Utah Code Annotated, 1953 Vol. 3 (Series 83238), Title 26 Health, Chapter 15, Article 2, p. 420-433.

Page Last Updated July 2, 2003.