Massachusetts Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915 .
see the Massachusetts Genealogy Guide page.
The collection consists of a name index and images of Massachusetts statewide marriage registers. It covers the years 1841 to 1915.
The marriage registers are in numbered volumes arranged by year then by individual town. Early marriage records were handwritten later they were typed on pre-printed forms with multiple entries on each page.
General Information About These Records
Beginning in 1841, in accordance with a new law, municipal clerks sent in the registrations they had collected to the state once a year. As a result, after that date records were available at the town and state levels. Boston did not comply with the law until about 1848. Population coverage is near 100% for later years. Coverage is not as complete for some earlier years.
Marriage records were recorded to document marriages and property ownership.
The marriage date, place, residence of bride and groom and occupation are fairly reliable. Other information such as age or birth place is dependent on the memory and reliability of the informant.
Citation For This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- "Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Secretary of the Commonwealth. State Archives, Boston.
- Massachusetts State Archives. “Marriage Records”. Digital images of originals housed at the Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts. Secretary of State.“Marriage register, 1901-1905”. Digital images of originals housed at the Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts. Secretary of the Commonwealth. “Marriages, 1841-1895”. Digital images of originals housed at the Massachusetts Division of Vital Statistics, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts. Various Town Clerks. “Marriage Records”. Digital images of originals housed at the Massachusetts State Archives, Boston, Massachusetts.
Key genealogical facts found in marriage records include:
- Date and place of registration
- Date and place of marriage
- Full names of bride and groom
- Ages of the bride and groom
- Residence of each at the time of marriage
- Occupation(s) of the bride and groom
- Place of birth
- Number of marriages (in later records)
- Names of parents
- Name, residence, and official status of person by whom married
How to Use This Record
Conduct a search to locate the indexed entry for your ancestor in the marriage records.
When searching, 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
After selecting an entry from search results, view the corresponding image to confirm the accuracy of the transcription. Compare the information in the marriage record to what you already know about your ancestor 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.
- 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.
- Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- 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.
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.
Look at the images one by one 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. 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.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to email@example.com. 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.
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.