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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Record Description
Record Type County Marriages
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.

As of 2009, no marriage records are included for the following counties:

  • Centre
  • Lycoming
  • Mifflin
  • Monroe
  • Pike
  • Union counties
  • Lackawanna (before 1926)

No records are included for the city of Philadelphia and Philadelphia County. They are available as a separate collection.

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 Probably due to lack of compliance, the law was repealed in 1855.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

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.

Sample Images

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?

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

Look at each image or record comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images or records and compare the information about the individuals listed to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind there may be more than one person in the records with the same name and you will want to look carefully at dates, places and relations to identify your ancestor from another person. You also may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name if they were known by a nickname or changed their name from the original birth record name. Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life and may be listed in records with any of those variations.

Search the collection by image, comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

I Found Who I was Looking for, Now What?

  • 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, Now What?

  • 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.

Known Issues with This Collection

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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 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.

How You Can Contribute

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.