West Virginia, County Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|Access the Records|
West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|West Virginia, United States|
|Flag of West Virginia|
|Location of West Virginia|
|County clerks, West Virginia|
- 1 What is in the Collection?
- 2 Collection Content
- 3 What Can this Collection Tell Me?
- 4 How Do I Search the 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 the Collection?
This collection consists of an index of West Virginia county marriage records. Data is searchable for all counties. However, records within each county may not be available for the full year range. It includes records from 1780 to 1970.
To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of West Virginia, marriages, click here. Early county marriage records were handwritten into bound books with multiple entries on each page. Early marriage bonds and licenses were usually handwritten on loose papers that were later bound. Pre-printed register books containing many entries per page were introduced in 1853. Beginning about 1895, the registers contained one entry per page.
Clerks of each County Court recorded marriages performed by religious or civil authorities. Records consist of bonds, applications, licenses, returns and marriage entries. The state of West Virginia began collecting marriages from the counties in 1964. Most marriages in a county were recorded except for certain religious groups that may have recorded marriages in their records but did not register them with the civil authorities.
Marriages began to be recorded as each County was created, some as early as 1780. This collection includes marriages as late as 1970.
Counties in West Virginia recorded marriages to legalize marital relationships and to safeguard the interests of wives.
The marriage date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time the marriage occurred are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. Other data such as age or birth place have more chance of error because they are based on the memory of the informant.
What Can this Collection Tell Me?
County marriage entries usually contain some or all of the following:
- Date of application for marriage license
- Date and place of marriage
- Name and age of groom
- Groom's race and marital status
- Groom's residence and occupation
- Birthplace of groom and sometimes, birth date
- Names of groom's parents, including maiden name of mother
- Name and age of bride
- Bride's race and marital status
- Bride's residence
- Birthplace of bride and sometimes, birth date
- Names of bride's parents, including maiden name of mother
- Name and title of person performing the marriage
How Do I Search the Collection?
To use these records it is helpful to know:
- The name of the person at the time of marriage
- The name of the intended spouse
- Other identifying information such as the approximate marriage date and place
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. 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.
|Look at an image of the original record. The indexed entry generally lists only the most basic identifying information, so the original record may contain further information which was not indexed. The index is linked to marriage entry images available online at West Virginia Culture. Save a copy of the image.|
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.
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.
- 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.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- 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.
I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
- Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
|Don't overlook FHL Keyword West Virginia, Marriage Records items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog.|
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.
- "West Virginia, Marriages, 1780-1970." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing county clerks throughout West Virginia.
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 West Virginia, Marriages, 1780-1970.|
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.