Pennsylvania Philadelphia Marriage Index (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: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951 .
The collection consists of marriage indexes from Philadelphia for the years 1885 to 1951. The marriage indexes are arranged by the names of brides and grooms with the year of the marriage and the license number. The surname of the spouse is shown in parentheses. Use the license numbers listed in the index to find copies of the marriage license records. Microfilm containing marriage license records for years 1885-1915 can be located in the FamilySearch "Affidavit of applicant for marriage license (Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania), 1885-1915; index, 1885-1916" collection, and viewed at the Family History Library and Family History Centers. Marriage license records for years 1916-1951 are available at the City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
For a list of dates and indexes currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
Information in the marriage index includes:
- Full name of person making application for license
- Surname only of spouse
- Gender of person making application
- Year of marriage
- Certificate number
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The name of the person at the time of marriage
- The county where the marriage occurred
- The approximate marriage date
- The marriage place
- The name of the intended spouse
Search the Collection
To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection image by image.
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "Year range"
⇒Select the appropriate "First letter of surname" which takes you to the images. Keep in mind:
Search the collection by image comparing 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.
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
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. For example:
- 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, may take you directly to an image.
- 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.
- Use the parents’ birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- 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.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment records or military records.
- 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?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
- 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.
General Information About These Records
The city and county of Philadelphia were combined in 1854. In 1860, the city passed a law requiring the Board of Health to register all marriages. In 1885, Pennsylvania authorized the Orphans’ Court in each county to register marriages. By 1885, all marriages were supposed to be licensed in Pennsylvania. The index entries are type written and arranged in columns.
Marriage records validate a spouse’s legal claim to property. Marriage licenses grant permission for a marriage to be performed and replaced the previous requirements to post banns or intentions. The index was created to provide public officials with a quick and easy access to any specific marriage record. It is very reliable since it was created from the marriage records. As with any printed index there may be some typographical errors.
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
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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: Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951
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 Cite FamilySearch Collections.
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.
- "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Clerk of the Orphan's Court. City Hall.