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Monday, July 18, 2016

How Do I Look for a Marriage Record?

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"Arkansas, County Marriages, 1837-1957," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NM8Y-FYR : accessed 09 Oct 2012), William Jackson and Addie Staten, 1916.
The following information will help you locate a marriage record for your ancestor:

  • name of ancestor and spouse
  • date of marriage
  • county or parish where marriage took place
If you are missing the date or place where the marriage occurred, use the census, death records, or children’s birth records to learn more.

Online
Some marriage records can be found in online collections on sites like FamilySearch and Ancestry. If you happen to find an index first, use it to locate the original record. The Nov 5, 1916 marriage certificate of William Jackson and Addie Staten of Crittenden County, Arkansas was found in the FamilySearch collection, “Arkansas County Marriages, 1837-1957.”

By mail
If you order a marriage certificate through the vital records or courthouse, you will need to have all three pieces of information highlighted above. Not all records are accessible in online databases.

Not all the marriage records are kept in the same place depending on the year the marriage occurred. This can be a little tricky. For example, marriage records in South Carolina from 1950 are available from the Office of Vital Records. 

Records between 1911 and 1950 are available through the local probate office in the county where the marriage occurred. Some marriage records in SC are on microfilm at the local archives also.

Look in the right place
The easiest route to take is to search the Research Wiki to learn about how to access vital records in your area. Here is an example to follow:
  1. If you were looking for a marriage that took place in Alabama, search the Research Wiki for Alabama.
  2. Find “Vital Records” on the outline on the left side of the page, and click on it.
  3. Next, look under marriages in the contents on the left side of the page, and select the link that covers your ancestor’s marriage (for example, choose1818-1957 Alabama Territory/State). Here you will discover links to three different resources for marriages during that time period.
If you are researching several family members in one area, be sure to check the local public library or genealogical society in the area where your ancestor lived. They may have access to published books with marriage indexes.

Family History Library Catalog
You may find records to document marriages through the Family History Library. Do a “Place Search” from the catalog at FamilySearch:
  1. Search for “Pennsylvania, Berks”
  2. Click on “Vital Records,” and you will see references to marriage records.

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