Washington, Pierce County Marriage Returns (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Washington, Pierce County Marriage Returns, 1891-1950 .
This Collection will include records from 1891 to 1950.
This collection includes marriage records recorded within Pierce County.
Civil marriage records were created 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.
Marriages were 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 marriage had occurred.
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browselink from the collection landing page.
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.
- "Washington, Pierce County Marriage Returns, 1891-1950" Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing County Auditor. State Archives, Bellevue.
Records were obtained from the Washington State Archives Puget Sound Regional Branch, Belleview, Washington. FHL digital images, 750 digital images.
These marriage records usually contain the following information:
- Date of license
- Date and place of marriage
- Name and age of groom
- Number or marriages for groom
- Race, residence and occupation of groom
- Birthplace of groom
- Name of groom's parents, including maiden name of mother
- Name and age of bride
- Number of marriages for bride
- Race, residence and occupation of bride
- Birthplace of bride
- Names or bride's parents, including maiden name of mother
- Name and title of person performing ceremony
- Names of witnesses and their residence(s)
How to Use the Records
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial collection page
⇒ Select the "County" category
⇒ Select the "Record Type, Date Range and Volume" category 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 which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
To begin your searh 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
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.
- 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 1900.
- 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.
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"Washington, Pierce County Marriage Returns, 1891-1950," image, "FamilySearch" (https://familysearch.org: accessed 4 March 2011) Pierce > Marriage returns 1933-1938 no 54400-63788 > Image 8 of 102; Lyman B. Nixon and Lenore M. Scoggin, married on 23 December, 1933; citing County Auditor. Washington, Pierce County, marriage records. Washington State Archives, Bellevue, Washington.