Illinois, County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Illinois County Marriages, 1810-1934 .
The collection consists of indexes and images of county marriages from the state of Illinois for the years 1810 to 1934. The records in this collection are for 57 counties. The type of record and the time period varies by county. Some counties also have a few birth records mixed in with the marriages.
Illinois marriage records included marriage registers and marriage licenses. Sometimes only one type of marriage record was preserved. Early county marriage records were handwritten into bound books with multiple entries to a page. These records provided little more than the date of marriage, names of the bride and groom, and the person who performed the marriage.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- "Illinois County Marriages, 1810-1934." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013.
Key genealogical facts usually found in this collection contains the following:
- Marriage date
- Marriage place
- Names of the bride and groom
- Ages of the bride and groom
- Names of witnesses
- Name of the officiator who performed the marriage
- Officiator’s title
- Residence of bride and groom
- License date and number
- Recording date
How to Use the Record
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. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes to marriages make it possible to access a specific marriage record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:
- The county where the marriage occurred
- The name of the person at the time of marriage
- The approximate marriage date
- The marriage place
- The name of the intended spouse
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the marriage records. Compare the information in the marriage record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
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 age to calculate an approximate birth date.
- Use the birth date or age along with the residence to find the family in census records.
- Use the residence 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.
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.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- 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.
Additional Information About These Records
By the mid-1800s the counties had preprinted register books. Starting in 1877, marriage register books provided columns for ages, residences, birth places, and sometimes the names of the parents or guardians of the bride and groom.
Marriage returns were reported by the minister or Justice of the Peace who performed the marriage. County histories can be checked to learn which religion and congregation a minister served. Ministers’ returns may reveal that the marriage took place in a private residence, often the home of a parent or relative.
The county clerk usually kept marriage records from the time the county was organized. The counties continue to record marriages to the present day and only county clerks can issue certified copies of the marriage certificate. A statewide register of marriages began in 1962 as county clerks forwarded marriage information to the Illinois Department of Health. If you do not know the county where a couple married after 1962, the Division of Vital Records may provide the marriage date and county.
Counties in Illinois 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 due to the lapse of time between marriage and birth.
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