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 .
This Collection will include records from 1811 to 1950.
Most of this collection consists of marriage licenses and certificates, including a few marriage declarations and marriage stubs.
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.
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.
- Clerk of the Superior Court. District of Columbia marriages. Washington D.C. Records Office, Washington D.C.
Genealogical facts usually found in the marriage records include the following:
- 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
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "Digital Folder Number" category
which takes you to the images
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
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.
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. Some on-line indexes, such as indexes to FamilySearch Historical Records, will take you directly to an image.
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.
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.
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
- 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
|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
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 Example for a Record in This Collection
"District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XL93-P49 : accessed 23 May 2012), Robert Cochran, 1923; citing Marriage Records, FHL microfiln 2,073,130; Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
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