Kentucky County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Kentucky County Marriages, 1797-1954 .
This Collection includes records from 1797 to 1954.
Most of this collection consists of marriage licenses and certificates, including a few marriage declarations, birth records, and death records.
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. Later they were recorded as handwritten entries in preprinted volumes.
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. 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.
- Kentucky county court clerks. Kentucky, county marriages. Courthouses throughout Kentucky.
Genealogical facts found in the marriage records includes the following:
- Date and place of marriage
- Groom's name
- Bride's name including her maiden name
- Names of the officiator and witnesses
- Names of the parents or guardians of the bride and groom
- Groom's place of birth
- Bride's place of birth
- Residences of the bride and groom
- Bride and Groom's age
- Bride and Groom's race
- Marital status of the bride and groom
How to Use the Record
When searching the records it is helpful to know the following:
- The approximate date and place of the marriage
- The names of the bride and groom
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.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s 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 age to calculate an approximate birth date.
- 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.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
- Compile the 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 records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died 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.
- 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 the 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?
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"Kentucky, County Marriages. 1797-1954" database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 18 November 2011), B.J. Hines and Nancy Jane Merrifield, bond posted 17 October 1900; 00481503 Image 40; Nelson County Clerk. Bardstown, Kentucky, United States.