Pennsylvania, County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|Access the Records|
Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Pennsylvania, United States|
|Flag of Pennsylvania|
|Location of Pennsylvania|
|Pennsylvania County Courts|
- 1 What is in this Collection?
- 2 Collection Content
- 3 What Can this Collection Tell Me?
- 4 How Do I Search This Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Known Issues with This Collection
- 7 Citing this Collection
- 8 How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?
What is in this 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.
Some records for the city of Philadelphia and Philadelphia County are included. Most indexed records for the city and county of Philadelphia can be found in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes, 1885-1951.
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 Probably due to lack of compliance, the law was repealed in 1855.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.
|You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950.|
A table and map showing the number of records per county is available at here. This page also includes a chart showing the number of records per year. 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. Records where the exact county could not be easily identified due to incomplete information in the index as listed in the table as Pennsylvania (State), but are not graphed on the map.
To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of Pennsylvania county marriage records, click 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.
What Can this Collection Tell Me?
These records may contain the following information:
- 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
- Maiden name of mothers
- Birthplaces of the father and mother
How Do I Search This Collection?
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The name of the person at the time of marriage.
- The approximate marriage date.
- The marriage place.
- The name of the intended spouse.
Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
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 on the initial search page
⇒ Select the "County"
⇒ Select the "Record type, date range and volume", which takes you to the images.
What Do I Do Next?
When you have located your ancestor’s marriage record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.
I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?
- Use the age in the marriage records to find an approximate birth year to begin your search in church or civil records.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married or died nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify. Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual. This compiled list can help you identify possible relations that can be further verified by researching the vital records in the state.
I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?
- Switch to a different record collection. Depending on the year and place, different records may be more useful.
- Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images. Pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation.
- Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
- Search the indexes and records at a nearby Family History Center.
|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.|
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
- "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.|
|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 Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950.|
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.