Finding a marriage date

An individual’s marriage date can usually be found on any of the documents listed below. If you have the minimum information required to find one of these documents, select the name of that document. The items in the list are ordered from most to least significant. If you do not have the minimum information required, read the paragraph below this list.

You can approximate a duo’s marriage date if you know the birth date of the oldest child. Pregnancies often happened soon after a duo’s marriage, so you can estimate the marriage date to be 1-2 years before the birth of the very first child. This will at least give you a target range of years in which to search for the records.

Finding a marriage date with vital records

An individual’s marriage certificate is the best place to look for a marriage date, because it is a primary source for that information. Marriage certificates are available from either the county or the state where the marriage took place, depending on the year of the marriage. If a marriage certificate is not available, you may want to check for marriage intentions, marriage bonds, marriage licenses, marriage applications, marriage contracts or settlements, and marriage comes back. If they exist, these records should also be available from the county or state where the marriage took place. In addition, you usually can find an individual’s marriage date on divorce certificates. These are also available from either the county or the state where the event took place. To get the address where you must write to obtain any of these vital records, see the topic Resources by state.

When looking for marriage records, many people use computerized marriage records indexes to help them find the record that they need. Some libraries have computerized marriage records indexes.

Finding the minimum amount of information for vital records

To find an individual’s marriage date on a vital record, such as a marriage certificate, you must at least know the groom’s utter name and/or the bride’s maiden name, the approximate year of the marriage, and the state or county of the marriage, depending on when the marriage took place.

Get help finding some of the minimum information by selecting one of the following items:

Even if you don’t have the minimum information required to find the original records, you’re not downright out of luck. Indexes to vital records, including marriage records, have been made for some states and counties. These indexes provide you with the information you need to access the original record. Check with libraries and genealogy societies in the area — they may know if any indexes exist for the records that you need.

Finding a marriage date with church records

You can usually find an individual’s marriage date with church marriage records.

The books listed below can help you locate your ancestors’ church records by telling you who presently has the records belonging to your ancestors” church. You can find these books in a public or genealogical library. Depending on the book that you use, you can look up either the name of your ancestors’ church or the name of the clergyman and find out who presently has the records belonging to your ancestors’ church. Of course, if you live close to your ancestors’ church, you should go directly to the church and ask the staff for assistance in locating the records that you need.

  • The Handbook of American Denominations, by Frank Mead
  • The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches and Reformed Churches , edited by the National Council of Churches
  • List of Historical Records Survey Publications , by the Works Projects Administration
  • State Historical Records Surveys , by the Works Projects Administration

Once you locate the records that belong to your ancestors’ church, the current custodian of the records should be able to direct you in your search for the marriage record that you need.

Another good place to look for both American and foreign church records is among the microfilm records at the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their church records are organized very first by state, then county, and then town. Unless the town that you are searching for had very few churches, knowing a denomination will make your search lighter.

Finding the minimum information for church records

To find an individual’s marriage date in church marriage records, you must at least know the individual’s name, and either the name of the church where the ceremony was performed or the name of the clergyman that shows up on the certificate.

Get help finding the minimum information for:

If you can find out the denomination of your ancestor’s religion, you can attempt contacting all of the churches of that denomination in the area where you believe your ancestor lived. If they have records from the corresponding time period, they should be able to tell you whether or not your ancestor was a church member. If their records do not go back far enough, they may be able to tell you if any other churches of that denomination existed in the area at the time and where their records may be.

Finding a marriage date with newspapers

A wedding announcement normally lists the wedding date. The best part about looking up wedding announcements is that you may also find a picture of the bride and groom.

The directories listed below will help you find the current owners of old newspapers from the time and place when the wedding announcement was published. If the individual spoke a foreign language, check to see if there was a newspaper in that language, too. Once you have located the current owners, you can request to search the suitable copies. The current owners should be able to direct you in your search.

  • Ayer Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals, available at most community libraries.
  • Winifred Gregory’s American Newspaper, available at community and genealogical libraries

The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) microfiche. The OCLC has a database of the U.S. Newspaper Program National Union List. You can access the OCLC at most university libraries and some community libraries.

Finding the minimum information for newspapers

To find an individual’s marriage date in a wedding announcement, you must at least know the approximate wedding date, the utter name of the groom and/or the maiden name of the bride, and the state and city or town where the marriage took place (or where the announcement was likely to have been published).

Get help finding some of the minimum information by selecting one of the following items:

Finding marriage dates with Bible records

Family Bibles often include family members’ marriage dates. Make sure that you have asked your family members whether or not they are aware of any old Bibles that are still in the family. When you find information in actual Bibles, check the publication date of the Bible. If the Bible was printed, for example, in 1871, but a marriage is recorded for 1851, you know that the information about that particular marriage was not written down at the time of the marriage, but was written down several years later. Information recorded after the fact is less likely to be accurate.

When you cannot find family Bibles among your own family members, check with genealogical societies in the area where the family lived. They may have or be aware of the location of local Bible records. When you are searching for Bible records, be sure to look under both the maiden name and married name.

Next, search through the transcribed Bible records belonging to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). These transcribed Bible records are available at the DAR library in Washington, D.C., local DAR chapters, and on microfilm through the Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. See the topic Libraries with a National Concentrate, Including LDS for information about these two libraries.

Finding the minimum information for Bible records

To find an individual’s marriage date in Bible records that are no longer in the family’s possession, you must at least know either the bride’s total married name or maiden name, or the groom’s utter name, as well as the state and county in which they lived.

Get help finding some of the minimum information by selecting one of the following items:

Finding a marriage date with military records

Veteran’s Benefit Records may display an individual’s marriage date if either the individual or the individual’s spouse served in the military. To get the address where you must write to obtain a military record, go to the topic Researching through military records, and see the category “Veterans’ Records.”

Finding the minimum information for military records

To find an individual’s marriage date in a military pension record, you must at least know the veteran’s name, the branch of service, such as Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, the state from which the veteran entered the service, and the war in which the veteran served. If the period of service was after 1916, you must also know entry and release dates, military ID number, Social Security number, whether an officer or enlisted, and date of birth.

Get help finding the minimum information for:

If you aren’t sure of the military branch or of the approximate time when the veteran served, look for military memorabilia an photos taken in uniform. These items can give you the information you need.

If the individual was a veteran who served and was killed in the Korean or Vietnam War, you may be able to find helpful information through the death records in the Military Index on the FamilySearch computer at your local Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Family History Library has all other wars indexed on microfiche. You only need to know the war and the veteran’s name. Albeit it is not likely that you will find the marriage date, you may get clues to places to look for other marriage records. Local community and genealogy libraries may also have war indexes. Contact individual libraries for their holdings.

Finding a marriage date with census records

Beginning in 1850, the census recorded the age of each individual in the family at their last bday. To find out if your ancestor shows up in an 1850 or later census, it’s easiest to search databases online. Ancestry’s census collections have both digitized and scanned copies of every US Census. Even if you don’t find the exact name that you need in the index, it is worth it to begin looking at all records for families with that surname in the state, as long as the surname isn’t too common. For example, if you are looking for Roberto Zubilaga, but only find John Zubilaga and Gianni Zubilaga in the index, look at those records. Using this method, you may come across the family that you are looking for.

At many libraries you can find tied or digital indexes for pre-1880 censuses. Indexes are organized by state and list individuals in alphabetical order by surname, so you don’t need to know the county. Different indexes contain different information that will help you find the census record. Some just give you the county that the person lived in, others tell you more. You can find strapped indexes at the National Archives and the National Archives regional centers , the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and branch Family History Centers , and many other libraries. Different locations have different indexes, so check more than one library if you don’t find the index that you need. In addition, Soundex indexes are available, with some exceptions, for the years 1880 to 1920. For information about Soundex, see the topic Soundex: what it is and how to use it.

Once you locate your ancestor’s name in an index, you will want to look at microfilm copies of the original census records. The original records will help you find the information you need and verify that you have found your ancestor, and not just someone with the same name. Pre-1940 census records are available at the National Archives and National Archives regional centers. Also check with your local public and genealogy libraries, because they may have census records or be part of an interlibrary loan system. In addition, your local Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may either have census records or be able to get copies of them for you.

Access to post-1940 census records is restricted to instantaneous relatives and descendants. If the individual whose records you are searching for is still living, you must have their written permission to obtain a copy of the record. If the individual is deceased, you must have a certified death certificate. Write to: Bureau of the Census, P.O. Box 1545, Jeffersonville, IN 47131. They will send you a form that you must pack out and come back with a fee.

You may also want to check the information contained in state and local censuses. Not all states and localities took their own censuses and the contents vary from state to state. However, sometimes the information is fairly valuable. Ancestry has a selection of state census records online , and you can also contact libraries, state archives, and genealogy societies in the area where your ancestors lived. They should be able to tell you if any exist and where you might find them. The Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is another possible source.

Finding the minimum information for census records

To estimate an individual’s marriage date from census records, you must at least know the name of one of the spouses, the state, and the county in which the duo lived when the census was taken. If you are using census records for 1870 or earlier, you can very likely use an index that only requires the state and surname.

Get help finding some of the minimum information by selecting one of the following items:

You can approximate a duo’s marriage date if you know the birth date of the oldest child. Pregnancies often happened soon after a duo’s marriage, so you can estimate the marriage date to be 1-2 years before the birth of the very first child. This will at least give you a target range of years in which to search for the records.

Finding a marriage date with family histories and biographies

If your ancestors had a family history or biography written about them, it can be a superb place to look up family information such as marriage dates. You may not only find the information that you are looking for, but also all sorts of other interesting information about the family.

To find a family history or biography, you need to spend some time at a few libraries. Most likely the best libraries in which to search are genealogy and public libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. In addition, you may want to check in larger libraries, such as state or university libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. If you are incapable to go to those libraries in person, find out if they are part of an interlibrary loan system. Ultimately, attempt checking the catalog of the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at your local Family History Center. They may have some suitable books in their collection.

There are two other places to check for family histories. Attempt genealogy lending libraries — these are companies that have book catalogs and will lend books through the mail for a fee. The addresses for three such libraries are listed below. If you have a modem, you can also search selected library catalogs through the Internet. For example, part of the Library of Congress catalog is accessible via modem.

American Genealogy Lending Library

Bountiful, UT 84011-0329

Telephone: (801) 298-5358

National Genealogy Society

4527 17th Street North

Arlington, VA 22207-2399

Telephone: (703) 525-0050

Fresh England Historical and Genealogical Society

101 Newbury Street

Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (617) 536-5740

Finding the minimum information for family histories and biographies

To get a copy of a family history or biography, you must at least know the utter name of your ancestor and the approximate area (state or county) in which they may have lived.

Get help finding some of the minimum information by selecting one of the following items:

Finding a marriage date with the International Genealogical Index

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is an index which documents records of deceased persons from around the world. The Parish and Vital Records List, which is published by the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shows which records have been extracted and listed in the International Genealogical Index for each geographical area and time period. It also shows which records are presently being extracted. Most of the names in the International Genealogical Index come from records dating from the early 16th century to the late 19th century. The index does not include every person from any given country, nor the names of all persons from the records indexed.

The International Genealogical Index was created and is maintained by the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can access it through the Family History Library, and it may also be available at some major genealogical societies and libraries.

It should be noted that the extracts from the original records that are recorded in the International Genealogical Index are not always accurate. Many agree that there is broad variation in the reliability of the records found in the International Genealogical Index. For these reasons, the International Genealogical Index is recommended as an excellent source of information, provided that you verify your information against original documents.

Finding the minimum information for the International Genealogical Index

To find an individual’s marriage date in the International Genealogical Index (IGI), you must at least know the individual’s name.

Get help finding the minimum information for:

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