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Pennsylvania, Civil Marriages - FamilySearch Historical Records

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Pennsylvania Civil Marriages, 1677-1950
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Pennsylvania, 
United States
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Flag of Pennsylvania
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Location of Pennsylvania
Record Description
Record Type Civil Marriages
Collection years 1677-1950
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Register of Wills Offices (various counties)


What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection consists of an index and images of various city and county marriage records, many from Philadelphia, covering the years 1677-1950.

Marriages were recorded to legalize marital relationships and to safeguard the interests of the wife and other heirs. The most reliable information is the date and place of the marriage and license date. Other information is dependent upon the reliability of the informant.

  • On January 12, 1852, the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted its first statewide law requiring the registration of vital records, including marriages. Probably due to lack of compliance, the law was repealed in 1855
  • On October 1, 1885, a new law went into effect that made it illegal for any “minister of the gospel, justice of the peace, or other officers, or persons authorized by law to solemnize marriages” to marry any couple who did not first obtain a marriage license. Since then, marriage licenses have been recorded without interruption with the Clerk of the Orphans’ Court within each county
  • Before 1885, marriage records created by ministers, justices of the peace, and larger cities may still be kept by the originator, but the bulk of the marriages recorded in Pennsylvania are in this collection

Counties in the state generally achieved 90 percent compliance by 1915

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Pennsylvania, Civil Marriages, 1677-1950.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

Marriage

  • Full names of the bride and groom
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Current residence(s) of the bride and groom
  • Age, race, occupation and nativity of bride and groom
  • Notes of a previous marriage
  • Names of parents

  • Notes of parental consent, if required
  • Date of the license
  • Name of person performing the ceremony
  • Maiden name of mothers
  • Birthplaces of the father and mother
  • Name of family members (parents, spouse, etc.)

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

Coverage Map[edit | edit source]

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of Pennsylvania marriages, click here.

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • At least one other piece of information

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name by visiting the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County/City
  2. Select the Record Type, Volume Number, and Year Range to view the images.


How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use the information to find other records such as birth, christening, census, land and death records
  • Use the information to find additional family members in census records
  • Search for church records
  • Search for land and probate records

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relatives
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist. Try variations of your ancestor’s name
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names, or even initials

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of Pennsylvania.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Historical Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.