About Vital Records
The Bureau of Vital Records and Statistics consists of official records of birth, death, fetal death, and Orleans Parish marriage records. These records are essential for just administration of our law and for the protection of individual rights. In addition, the statistical data from these records are of great value to public health and other agencies. You may need certified copies of these records for:
- school enrollment
- proof of citizenship
- governmental benefits
During the first half of the nineteenth century, repeated outbreaks of Yellow Fever in New Orleans prompted the creation of a succession of short-lived, ineffective government agencies charged with addressing public sanitation needs in New Orleans. In response to the 1847 Yellow Fever outbreak that killed over 2000 people in New Orleans, a Board of Health for Orleans Parish was established. The Board was charged with producing an annual report on the health of the city and devising recommendations for improving the city's health. In its Annual Report of the Board of Health of the City of New Orleans for 1849, the Board described the fundamental importance played by mortality statistics in the identification of public health needs and the development of policies to address these needs. The report states:
"If a city or country is ignorant of the diseases fatal to its population, if it does not know the age at death, sex, color, length of residence, occupation, and in what part of the city the death took place; it must be ignorant of one of its most important duties; that which is dearest to every human being, its sanitary condition, ...and all laws intended to benefit the sanitary condition without a previous knowledge of what that sanitary condition is, are deficient in the basis of all wise legislation and trifle with common sense."
The Board that produced the 1849 report was the first of a series of governmental public health agencies that participated in the evolution toward today's statewide vital event registration system and the statistical reporting of Louisiana's vital events. Vital statistics reporting today includes descriptions of live births, spontaneous fetal deaths, induced terminations of pregnancy, total deaths, infant deaths, maternal deaths, marriage, and divorce. Statistical reporting of these population-based vital events produces the fundamental indicators used for public health surveillance of populations at risk of poor health outcomes.
The Vital Records Registry is to respond to statutory mandates related to the collection, maintenance, issuance and preservation of birth, death, fetal death, marriage, and other vital events.
The State Center for Health Statistics is to provide state health status indicators and analyses for use in health program planning and evaluation, and for monitoring health problems that may occur in Louisiana; and to support health research projects in conjunction with educational, private, public, and community-based agencies.
Before effective interventions to address public health concerns can be devised, those designing the interventions must identify the affected populations, disease frequency, and geographic distribution.
Through annual standardized reports and responses to ad hoc information requests, the State Center for Health Statistics provides information to groups actively engaged in developing and prioritizing health policies and intervention strategies.