Montana County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950 .
The dates covered by this collection are 1865 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.
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.
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 Court Clerks in Montana. Montana, county marriages. County courthouses throughout Montana.
Key genealogical facts found in this collection include:
- 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
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.
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 employment records or other types of records such as 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.
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.
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also 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 Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950." database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/: accessed 4 April 2012), George C. Martin and Janette Peterson, married 14 December 1916; citing Marriage Records, FHL microfilm 1,940,167; District Court Records, Cascade County, Great Falls, Montana.