Pennsylvania, Civil Marriages - FamilySearch Historical Records
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Pennsylvania, Civil Marriages, 1677-1950 .
- 1 Record Description
- 2 Record Content
- 3 How to Use the Record
- 4 Related Websites
- 5 Related Wiki Articles
- 6 How You Can Contribute
- 7 Citations for This Collection
Record Description[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.
|You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Pennsylvania, Civil Marriages, 1677-1950.|
Coverage Map[edit | edit source]
To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of Pennsylvania marriages, click here.
Record Content[edit | edit source]
The record content varies by time period and individual record. You may find any of the following:
- 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
How to Use the Record[edit | edit source]
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The county where the marriage occurred
- The names of the bride and groom at the time of marriage
- The approximate marriage date and place
Search the Collection[edit | edit source]
To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection by image.
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "County/City"
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Type,Volume Number, Year Range" which takes you to the images.
Look at each image 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.
With either search 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 tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
Using the Information[edit | edit source]
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. For example:
- 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.
Tips to Keep in Mind[edit | edit source]
- 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.
- 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.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?[edit | edit source]
- 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.
|Don't overlook FHL Keyword Pennsylvania, Marriage Records items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see the wiki article Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries. For additional information about this state see the wiki article Pennsylvania.|
General Information About These Records[edit | edit source]
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.
Related Websites[edit | edit source]
Related Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]
How You Can Contribute[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.
Citations for This Collection[edit | edit source]
Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.
- "Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1677-1950." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2015. Citing State Historical Society, County and City Archives, Pennsylvania
Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Pennsylvania, Civil Marriages, 1677-1950.
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