District of Columbia, Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Collections)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians.

The District of Columbia collections are available only to members of the supporting organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints using the FamilySearch website but can be viewed by all users at a FamilySearch Center near you. Indexes to the records are still free to all users online.

Original images can also be ordered or viewed through the following mediums.
1. Microfilm and microfiche from the Family History Library are available via Online Film Ordering in most parts of the world. The film number is included in the source information found on the index of the record. A catalog search for the District of Columbia provides a rich variety of available records.

Instructions on how to order microfilm are found on the research wiki.

2. The research wiki includes links to several websites which offer vital records for the District of Columbia

3. Request a digital copy of items found in the FamilySearch Catalog services from the Family History Library (photoduplication). Include source information found on the index of the record in your request.

Record Description

Most of this collection consists of marriage licenses and certificates, including a few marriage declarations and marriage stubs for the years 1811 to 1950.

The records are arranged by county, then by volume and year range. The form type varies between register style and certificate style. County clerks usually used the same printed form during the same time periods. Marriage records were generally well preserved, although fires, floods, or other disasters may have destroyed some records.

The earliest marriage bonds and licenses were usually handwritten on loose papers that were later bound into lettered volumes. Some marriage records had multiple entries on each page, while others had single records per page.

Registration of marriages began in 1811. Some of the early marriages for the years 1811 to 1858 have been transcribed by the DAR and are on microfilm at the Family History Library(FHL Collection Film 845766). Easier-to-use versions of these records include:

  • DC marriage records 1811-1950; indexes, 1811-1986 (FHL Collection Film 2079252).
  • Alexandria (DC) marriage certificates returned 1801-1850(FHL Collection Film 1902941 item 3).
  • DC marriage registers 1811-1870 (FHL Collection Book 975.3 V28p)  Early registers only contain the name of the bride and groom and the date of marriage.
  • DC marriage returns, 1874-1902, 1907-1923; consents, 1896-Dec. 1950 (FHL Collection Film 2070925) These records may provide the name of the bride and groom, and their age, residence, color, occupation, birthplace and number of marriages.
  • DC newspaper marriage notices 1800-1850 (FHL Collection Film 929472).

You can obtain marriage records from 1811 to the present by writing to:

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Marriage License Bureau
500 Indiana Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: 202-879-4840
Internet: District of Columbia Courts

Marriages more than 50 years old are considered public record and no approval is needed to apply for a record copy.

Civil marriage records were created to legalize marital relationships and to protect the interests of the wife and other heirs to legal claims on property.

The marriage date, place, residence of the bride and groom, and occupations are relatively reliable. Other information, such as age or birthplace, is dependent on the knowledge, memory, and accuracy of the informants, usually the bride and groom.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950.

Record Content

Marriage records usually contain the following information:

  • Groom's name and place of residence
  • Bride's name and place of residence
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of witnesses
  • Name of officiator

How to Use the Record

When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:

  • The name of the person at the time of marriage 
  • The approximate marriage date
  • The name of the intended spouse

Search the Collection

To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s marriage record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.

For example:

  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • The information in marriage records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

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Don't overlook FHL Place District of Columbia items or FHL Keyword United States, District of Columbia items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see District of Columbia Archives and Libraries.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.


Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

“Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the “Show Citation” box:District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.


Citation for This Collection

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950.

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

"District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Clerk of the Superior Court. Records Office, Washington D.C.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 18 July 2014, at 23:39.
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