Michigan, County Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Michigan County Marriages, 1820-1935 .
The collection consists of an index and images of marriage registers and certificates from county records. The content and time period varies by county. This collection does not include the following counties:
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
An 1805 law required registration of marriages with the clerk of the local district court. In 1867, an additional law required the counties to send copies of the records to the Office of the State Registrar. A very high percentage of marriages that took place in Michigan were recorded by civil authorities.
Marriages were usually recorded by the clerk of the district court for each county from the time the county was formed. Persons desiring to marry obtained a license that they presented to the minister or other person authorized to marry, such as a justice of the peace. Once the marriage was performed, the officiator sent a return to the clerk confirming that the m
Counties in Michigan recorded marriages to legalize marital relationships and to protect the interests of the wife and other heirs to legal claims on property.
The marriage date, place, residence of the bride and groom, and occupations are relatively reliable. Other information, such as age or birthplace, is dependent on the knowledge, memory, and accuracy of the informants, usually the bride and groom. marriage had occurred.
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.
- "Michigan, County Marriages, 1820-1935." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013.
Information found in Michigan marriage records include:
- Name of the bride and groom
- Date of marriage license
- Date and place of marriage
- Age of bride and groom
- Race of bride and groom
- Residence of bride and groom
- Birthplace of bride and groom
- Name of bride's and groom’s fathers
- Occupation of bride and groom
Later records also include the following:
- Maiden name of bride's and groom’s mother
- Number of times previously married
- Date and place of marriage
- Name of person performing the marriage
- Witnesses to the marriage
- Residence of witnesses
How to Use the Records
To begin your search, 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
To search the collection image by image select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "County"
⇒Select the "Record Type, Year Range, Volume" which takes you to the images.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: Michigan, County Marriages, 1820-1935
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.