Pennsylvania, County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950 .
- 1 What is in the Collection?
- 2 Collection Content
- 3 How Do I Search the Collection?
- 4 What Do I Do Next?
- 5 What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?
- 6 Known Issues with This Collection
- 7 Related Websites
- 8 Related Wiki Articles
- 9 How You Can Contribute
- 10 Citing this Collection
What is in the Collection?
This collection includes civil marriage records created in Pennsylvania counties for the years 1885 to 1950. The records include registers, affidavits and marriage licenses. In some instances, divorce records are recorded with marriages.
As of 2009, no marriage records are included for the following counties:
- Union counties
- Lackawanna (before 1926)
No records are included for the city of Philadelphia and Philadelphia County. They are available as a separate collection.
Coverage Table and Map
The Coverage Map shows the places and time periods covered in the indexed records for this collection. Most of the records in the collection are from the time periods listed in the table; however, the collection may have a few records from before or after the time period. A map showing the record coverage by county is available here .
Digital Folder List
This collection was published as a DGS browse collection. These collections do not include any human-readable waypoint data making them difficult to use. A table showing each DGS number and its contents can be found in Pennsylvania, County Marriages Digital Folder Number List. The list can be sorted by DGS number, GS number, county, author, title, and film note.
The following information may be found on a marriage license that was recorded between 1885 and 1913:
- Full names of the bride and groom
- Date and place of marriage
- Current residence(s) of the bride and groom
- Age, race, occupation and nativity of bride and groom
- Notes of a previous marriage
- Names of parents
- Notes of parental consent, if required
- Date of the license
- Name of person performing the ceremony
In addition to the previous information, marriage licenses after 1913 may also include the following:
- Maiden name of mothers
- Birthplaces of the father and mother
How Do I Search the Collection?
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The county where the marriage occurred
- The names of the bride and groom at the time of marriage
- The approximate marriage date and place
Search the Collection
To search the collection by name:
Fill in the requested information in the boxes 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 look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. 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 on-line 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. For example:
- 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.
- 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.
Tips to 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.
What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?
- 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.
|Don't overlook FHL Keyword Pennsylvania, Marriage Records items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see the wiki article Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries. For additional information about this state see the wiki article Pennsylvania Genealogy.|
General Information About These Records
Marriages were recorded to legalize marital relationships and to safeguard the interests of the wife and other heirs. The most reliable information is the date and place of the marriage and license date. Other information is dependent upon the reliability of the informant.
On January 12, 1852, the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted its first statewide law requiring the registration of vital records, including marriages. Probably due to lack of compliance, the law was repealed in 1855.
On October 1, 1885, a new law went into effect that made it illegal for any “minister of the gospel, justice of the peace, or other officers, or persons authorized by law to solemnize marriages” to marry any couple who did not first obtain a marriage license. Since then, marriage licenses have been recorded without interruption with the Clerk of the Orphans’ Court within each county.
Before 1885, marriage records created by ministers, justices of the peace, and larger cities may still be kept by the originator, but the bulk of the marriages recorded in Pennsylvania are in this collection.
Counties in the state generally achieved 90 percent compliance by 1915.
Known Issues with This Collection
| 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 article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to email@example.com. 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.
- US GenWeb Archives
- Pennsylvania Marriage and Divorce Records
- Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, How To Obtain a Marriage Record
Related Wiki Articles
How You Can Contribute
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Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.
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.
- "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing County courthouses, Pennsylvania.
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 Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950.|