Pennsylvania, County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Pennsylvania, United States
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Flag of Pennsylvania
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Location of Pennsylvania
Record Description
Record Type Marriage
Collection years 1885-1950
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Pennsylvania County Courts


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 Probably due to lack of compliance, the law was repealed in 1855.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.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950.

What Can these Records 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

Collection Content

Coverage Table

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.

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of Pennsylvania county marriage records, click here.

Sample Image

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.


How Do I Search This Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • At least one other piece of information


Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.

  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select County
  2. Select Record type, date range and volume

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.


For more tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.


I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the information to find other records such as birth, christening, census, land and death records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

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

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name.
  • 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 of Pennsylvania, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Catalog

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 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:

"Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. 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.


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 Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950.


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