District of Columbia, Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Collections)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: District of Columbia, Marriages, 1811-1950 .
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 Family History Library catalog services from the Family History Library (photoduplication). Include source information found on the index of the record in your request.
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.
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
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors 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 compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
To search the collection image by image <br ⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.
Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person 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.
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.
Look at the image to see if there is additional information about your ancestor.
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.
- 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).
Known Issues with This Collection
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 email@example.com. 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.
- District of Columbia GenWeb Project
- US GenWeb Archives, District of Columbia
- Washington DC History and Genealogy
- Genealogy & Historical Societies in District of Columbia (Washington DC)
Related Wiki Articles
Contributions to This Article
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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.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
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.
- "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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