The Main Types of Public Records

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In modern countries, public records are kept as proof of events which are important to the state and society as a whole. There are many different types available. Check out the main ones which you should be familiar with, especially if you plan to perform a search.
Individual Records
Popularly known as vital records, these include birth, marriage, divorce and death records, to name the main ones. They are kept in the places where the event has occurred, but usually not by the same institution. While birth, death and marriage records are kept by the clerk’s office in the local area, divorce ones are often archived in courts and can be accessed only via their system.
Since personal information is contained in these public records, it is possible to access them only after sending a request with a confirmation of your identity. Still, some very old records which are of value primarily to people interested in genealogy may be accessible freely, especially online. Another thing which you should keep in mind is that in some places local laws give citizens the opportunity to keep such documents private. This is often the case with marriage licenses and divorce certificates.
General Records
These public records cover the entire population or specific segments of it. You can easily access census records where you can find people by name and/or location. The immigration and military records also fall in this category. The information found in them is most often used for genealogy and other scientific researches. For instance, if a student is writing a research paper on the history of his town, he can track changes in the population and in the number of immigrants who have settled in the local area.
Court and Criminal Records
Each court keeps a record of all cases that it has and most are accessible to the general public. The documents are most often used by lawyers and the people that they concern specifically. The criminal records, on the other hand, reveal the criminal history of a person, if he or she has any, of course. They are accessible to employers, landlords and other private or legal persons that have a direct interest in them. The sex offender registries are also public records, but they fall into a separate category because they are available directly to the public. Anyone can access them at any time online.
It is possible to retrieve a copy of any document which is part of the public records, even though the process may vary.


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