Births, Marriages and Deaths
Woburn is fortunate in that it has a continuous series of records from the day of its earliest settling in 1640. Unlike many older communities, there has never been a catastrophe that resulted in the loss of records. However, many of the records are brittle. Surprisingly, the records from the 1800’s tend to be more fragile than the older records due to the type of paper used at the time.
Woburn maintains an integrated vital record filing system. There are many records that are classified as restricted records with access limited to certain individuals, such as a birth out of wedlock or the subsequent marriage certificate of any individual who was born out of wedlock. These records over the years have been permanently bound or “integrated” with the open records. Due to the fragile nature of many of the documents and the fact that there are restricted records integrated with open records, the records are not available in a public manner for inspection. The staff in the Office of the City Clerk will search the records and obtain copies as requested.
Copies of vital records can be obtained in two manners – either over the counter or by mail to the Office of the City Clerk. The fee for certified copies of records is $10 per copy and there is no additional charge just because the record is “old.” Search fees are generally not charged unless the record search is extensive. You will be advised before a search begins if a search charge will apply.
Please find the appropriate request forms on the City Clerk’s Forms & Documents tab.
If you are not certain whether or not a record is on file in the Office of the Woburn City Clerk, a search can be conducted. For any births or deaths prior to 1900 and marriages prior to 1890, you may consult the “Woburn Record of Births, Deaths, and Marriages” compiled by the Honorable Edward F. Johnson. Copies are available for public inspection at the Woburn Public Library and at times copies are available for sale from internet booksellers. The staff of the Office of the City Clerk can also conduct a search of the records. Please provide as much information as possible, such as names and the approximate date of the event. Keep in mind that in the early records of Woburn there were fewer family names and therefore there may be many records with the same first and last name.
Once it is confirmed that a record is on file, the staff will notify you and advise you of the fee for obtaining the copy. Most of the earlier records do not have actual certificates but rather are entries in ledger books. The staff will prepare a certificate based on the information in the ledger books. For many early records, there is little more than the name and date of the event available.
In Massachusetts one of the most important steps in planning for a wedding – whether a religious or secular ceremony – is obtaining a marriage license. If the wedding is to be performed in Massachusetts, the couple can obtain the license from any City Clerk or Town Clerk in Massachusetts. The Office of the City Clerk is ready to assist you in completing this part of your wedding preparations.
In order to obtain a marriage license, the couple must appear together in the office of the City Clerk. The couple must each have a government issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license, Massachusetts ID card, or a passport. Blood tests are no longer required in Massachusetts. There are three forms that the couple must complete. This is known as filing the intention of marriage.
Marriage intentions are done by appointment only. Please see below for more information on scheduling an appointment.
The couple cannot receive the marriage license until the fourth day after filing the Intention, unless a court order is obtained. For example, if a couple files the intention on a Monday, the license cannot be issued until Thursday. Therefore, a couple should plan for this waiting period when applying. Also, the wedding ceremony must be performed within 60 days of the date of filing the marriage intention or the process must be started over, including payment of the filing fee. If the couple applies two to three weeks before the ceremony, that is adequate time.
The City Clerk is available to provide Justice of the Peace services.
The fee for filing a marriage intention in Woburn is $40, which includes one certified copy. After the wedding, the officiant – that is the religious official or justice of the peace who presides at the ceremony – will sign and file the license with the City Clerk. Once the license is received from the officiant, certified copies can be issued to the couple. When the couple applies for the license, they can also pre-pay for additional certified copies which will be mailed to the address that they request once the original is received from the officiant.
Couples wishing to file marriage intentions may do so by appointment. Call the City Clerk’s Office at (781) 897-5850 in order to schedule a time. The hours during which appointments can be scheduled to file intentions are as follows:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Thursday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon