United States, How to Use Marriage RecordsEdit This Page

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Contents

Introduction

The following sections are summaries of the "How to Use the Record" sections in the FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles.

About U. S. marriage records

  • Name indexes make it possible to access a specific marriage record quickly.
  • Indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings or misinterpretations. If the information was scanned, there may be character recognition errors.
  • The information in these 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.
  • The type of information given may vary from one record to another record.

Find your ancestor’s marriage record (search strategy)

Follow these steps.

1. Find your ancestor in the index.

  • Note the locator information (such as page, entry, or certificate number) for the record.

2. Find your ancestor’s marriage record:

  • Look for the page, entry, or certificate number (or other locator information) you found in the index.

3. Evaluate and record each piece of information you find.

To search the index, you need 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.

Tips for finding your ancestor

  • Verify whether the name you found is your ancestor’s. Compare the information you know to the information you find. Look at relationships.
  • When looking for a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.

If you don’t find your ancestor in the index, do the following:

  • 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.

Find marriage records for other family members

While you are searching marriage records, it is helpful to follow the same steps to find the marriage records of other family members who lived in the same time and place.

1. Look for:

  • Every person with the same surname. This is especially helpful if the surname is unusual or the family lived in rural areas.
  • Children, siblings, parents, and other relatives whose records may be in the same county.
  • A second marriage of a parent.

2. Compile the individuals into families, with the appropriate parents. (Create family group records for the families.)

3. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.

Continue your research:

Use the information you found to search other records. You can learn more about the same family or look for additional ancestors. Choose what you want to look for next.

If you know this information: Search for or do this:
Marriage date and place Create a family group record for this husband and wife.

Find the family in census records.
Birth date or age and place of birth of the husband and wife. Find the couple’s birth records and parents’ names.

Find census records.
Residence and names of parents Find church records.

Find land records.

Find census records.
Occupations Find employment records.

Find military or other types of records.
Parents’ birth places Find former residences.

Establish a migration pattern for the family.

Find census records.
Name of the marriage officiator (clue to the religion) Find church records.

Find the area of residence. Note that ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
Number of marriages, more than one Look for previous marriages.

Related Wiki Articles

Wiki articles describing these collections are found at:

Other Wiki Articles in this Series


 

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