District of Columbia, Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Collections)

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District of Columbia, Marriages, 1811-1950 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
District of Columbia, United States
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Flag of District of Columbia
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Location of District of Columbia
Record Description
Record Type Marriage
Collection years 1811-1950
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

Most of this collection consists of marriage licenses and certificates, including a few marriage declarations and marriage stubs for the years 1811 to 1950.

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.

Registration of marriages began in 1811. Some of the early marriages for the years 1811 to 1858 have been transcribed by the DAR and are on microfilm at the Family History Library(FHL Collection Film 845766). Easier-to-use versions of these records include:

  • DC marriage records 1811-1950; indexes, 1811-1986 (FHL Collection Film 2079252).
  • Alexandria (DC) marriage certificates returned 1801-1850(FHL Collection Film 1902941 item 3).
  • DC marriage registers 1811-1870 (FHL Collection Book 975.3 V28p)  Early registers only contain the name of the bride and groom and the date of marriage.
  • DC marriage returns, 1874-1902, 1907-1923; consents, 1896-Dec. 1950 (FHL Collection Film 2070925) These records may provide the name of the bride and groom, and their age, residence, color, occupation, birthplace and number of marriages.
  • DC newspaper marriage notices 1800-1850 (FHL Collection Film 929472).

You can obtain marriage records from 1811 to the present by writing to:

Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Marriage License Bureau
500 Indiana Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: 202-879-4840
Internet: District of Columbia Courts

Marriages more than 50 years old are considered public record and no approval is needed to apply for a record copy.

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.

Collection Content

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of District of Columbia marriages, click here.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians.

The District of Columbia collections are available only to members of the supporting organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints using the FamilySearch website but can be viewed by all users at a FamilySearch Center near you. Indexes to the records are still free to all users online.

Sample Images

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Marriage records usually contain the following information:

  • Groom's name and place of residence
  • Bride's name and place of residence
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of witnesses
  • Name of officiator

How Do I Search the Collection?

When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:

  • The name of the person at the time of marriage 
  • The approximate marriage date
  • The name of the intended spouse

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals 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.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Digital Folder Number" category which takes you to the images

Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • 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 wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

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.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • 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.

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Search for the marriage record of the marriage partner if known.
  • 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).

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.  

Collection Citation

"District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Clerk of the Superior Court. Records Office, Washington D.C.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for District of Columbia Marriages, 1811-1950.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.