Montana County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950 .
Most of this collection consists of marriage licenses and certificates, including a few marriage declarations and marriage stubs for the years 1865 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.
Marriages were recorded by the clerk of the district court for each county from the time the county was formed. Persons desiring to marry obtained a license that they presented to the minister or other person authorized to marry, such as a justice of the peace. Once the marriage was performed, the officiator sent a return to the clerk confirming that the marriage had occurred. Montana does not have a centralized registration of marriage records.
A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Montana Vital Records State Department of Health or the county clerk’s office of the county where the event occurred.
The State Department of Health has an index to marriages beginning in 1943. This index helps to identify the county in which the marriage occurred. The original records are available only in the county.
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.
A coverage table for this collection is available in the wiki article Montana County Marriages Coverage Table (FamilySearch Historical Records).
Information found in these marriage records usually includes:
- Date and place of marriage
- Groom's name, age, race and residence
- Groom's birth place
- Groom's parents' names including maiden name of mother
- Bride's name, age, race and residence
- Bride's birth place
- Bride's parents' names including maiden name of mother
- Names of witnesses
- Name of the officiator at marriage ceremony
How to Use the Records
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The name of the person at the time of marriage.
- The name of the intended spouse.
- Identifying information such as when and where the marriage occurred.
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.
- Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
- 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.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- 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 1900.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
Related Web Sites
- Newspaper Notices of Montana, notices contain the counties of Jefferson, Yellowstone and Flathead
- Western States Marriage Index, hosted by BYU/Idaho. Search by bride or groom - Free.
Related Wiki Articles
Contributions to This Article
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Citation for This Collection
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.
- "Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing County Clerks throughout Montana, County Courthouses throughout Montana.
- This page was last modified on 26 August 2014, at 16:56.
- This page has been accessed 7,221 times.
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