Delaware, Marriage Records (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: Delaware, Marriage Records, 1913-1954 .
This Collection will include records from 1913 to 1954.
Originally, marriage records were handwritten. Later they were typed on pre-printed forms with multiple entries on each page. Marriage records were generally well preserved, though fires, floods, or other disasters may have destroyed some records.
State registration of marriages began in 1847 as the recorder of deeds for each county began to send copies of marriages to the secretary of the State Board of Health. Vital registration was generally complied with after 1913 when the central Bureau of Vital Statistics was established according to state law, which required registration of vital records. Copies of marriage records for the most recent 40 years can be obtained by writing to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, or for earlier records, from the Delaware Public Archives in Dover, Delaware.
Population coverage is nearly 100% after statewide registration began in 1847. Coverage is not as complete for some earlier years.
Counties in Delaware recorded marriages to safeguard the interests of the wife and other legal heirs by documenting marriages and property ownership.
Marriage records are considered to be primary source records. Information in these records is usually reliable, including the marriage date and place and residences of the bride and groom.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- Delaware Bureau of Vital Statistics. Marriage records. Delaware Bureau of Archives and Records Management, Dover, Delaware.
Delaware marriage records may include the following:
- Groom's name and residence
- Groom's age, race, nativity and occupation
- Name of groom's father and place of nativity
- Name of groom's mother and place of nativity
- Marital status of the bride and groom
- Bride's name and residence
- Bride's age, race, and nativity
- Name of bride's father and place of nativity
- Name of bride's mother and place of nativity
- Name of the officiator
- Witnesses' names and their place of residence
How to Use the Records
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes to marriages make it possible to access a specific marriage record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:
- The county where the marriage occurred
- The name of the person at the time of marriage
- The approximate marriage date
- The marriage place
- The name of the intended spouse
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the marriage records. Compare the information in the marriage record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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.
- 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 parent’s 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.
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 1900.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- 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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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.