The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has debuted a new website, OK2Explore (ok2explore.health.ok.gov), where users can search vital records as well as purchase copies.
Kelly Baker, OSDH Registrar of Vital Records, formally opened the new website at the OGS Monthly Meeting January 9 at the Oklahoma History Center, Chesapeake Room, 800 Nazhi Zudi Drive in Oklahoma City.
This initiative allows genealogists and other historians to view OK birth records occurring more than 20 years ago and death records occurring more than five years ago.
In 2016, legislation authored by Rep. Elise Hall, Sen. David Holt and Sen. Anastasia Pittman passed permitting OSDH to make these records publicly accessible.
OGS President Mike Birdsong said, “This is a great example of public agencies and nonprofit entities working for the greater good. It’s been our honor to work with such committed OSDH staff.”
“Vital Records has worked diligently over the years to preserve the integrity of the birth and death records, protect the identity of our citizens, and we continue to preserve the historical documents of our state and our families,” said Baker. “Given recent technology advances, we are very pleased to have an opportunity to serve on this team with the Legislature, OMES, and the OGS to provide this new tool to the public at no charge.”
The legislation also determined that records of births that occurred more than 125 years ago and records of deaths occurring more than 50 years ago should be open record. While proof of eligibility is not necessary to request these records, applications, payment and identification are required.
For family historians, collecting copies of ancestors’ birth and death certificates can be a timely and costly process. “With OK2Explore, users can immediately access records which helps verify an ancestor’s data,” reported Birdsong. “We certainly respect the privacy rights of living and recently deceased Oklahomans, and feel this index is a good balance between protecting privacy and researching family records.”
The cost for records starts at $15.