Washington, County Marriages (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: Washington State County Marriages, 1858-1950 .
Collection Time Period
The time period covered by this collection includes the dates 1858-1950.
This collection contains marriage returns, certificates and a few affidavits depending on the county. Most of the records are pre-printed forms filled in by hand or typewritten. Some of the certificates are handwritten entries recorded in registers.
Key genealogical facts that may be found in the marriage records are:
- Names of bride and groom
- Date and place of marriage
- Ages of bride and groom (on marriage return)
- Places of birth (on marriage return)
- Occupation (on marriage return)
- Names of parents (on marriage return)
- Names of witnesses
- Name of person performing the marriage
How to Use the Record
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 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).
County officials began recording marriages in 1853 or soon after the counties were organized. Information was filled in by the minister, priest, or official performing the marriage ceremony and then returned to the county auditor of the county in which the marriage took place. Statewide registration of marriages began in 1968.
Why the Record Was Created
Marriage records legalize marital relationships and validate a wife’s legal claim to property.
County marriage records are considered a reliable source in family history research because they contain a record of an event usually registered very near the time the event occurred. The reliability, of course, depends on the accuracy of the informant.
Western States Marriage Index, hosted by BYU/Idaho. Search by bride or groom - Free.
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Contributions to This Article
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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.
Example of a Source Citation for a Record Found in This Collection
"Washington State County Marriages, 1858-1950." index and images, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org): accessed 13 April 2011. entry for Lucious E. Snow and Fleeta Hodges, married 6 August 1934. citing Marriage Records, digital number, 4,138,850, Image 00,960; Thurston County Courthouse, Olympia, Washington.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
"Washington State County Marriages, 1858-1950," index and images, FamilySearch, (http://familysearch.org), from the Washington State Archives. Digital copies of originals housed in County Auditor Offices in various counties throughout Washington.
Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations For FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.