In a few of the marriage collections on Ancestry, you will find the indexes that link to images of actual marriage records. In other cases, there are indexes that contain information that will help you request the record. If you find your ancestor in an index, be sure to click on the database title and look at the description to learn how to request the actual marriage record. The full record will include details not found in the index. We also maintain a list of links to state vital records agencies in the Ancestry Library.
If you’re unable to locate your ancestor’s record in civil records, check with churches or synagogues in the areas where the bride or groom lived. Ancestry has some religious marriage records among its collections. To see what collections are available through the Card Catalog, using the filters on the left side of the page, select Birth, Marriage & Death, then Marriage & Divorce, and finally the location.
Marriage information can establish religious and congregation affiliation, and other details can include age and place of birth, occupation, residences, and parents’ names. Divorce records include similar details, as well as date of divorce, children’s names, reasons for dissolution, and more.
Marriage records are primary resources for the marriage details, since they were created at the time of the marriage. This collection includes indexes that can help you request the record, and in some cases, actual images of the marriage records.
- Narrow your search for marriage records by looking at the age and birthplace of the first child. This information can also be found in Census Records. Start your search a year prior to the child’s birth and gradually widen your search back (and forward) in time until you locate the record. Tracing your ancestor through City Directories can be helpful as well.
- Seek out the marriage records for all family members. Information found on the records of siblings may include helpful details that aren’t found on your ancestor’s record.
- When you find a record in a marriage index, always follow up and request the original record. Click on the database title and the source information and description on the collection page will tell you where the records are held.
- Keep in mind that when civil registration first began, not everyone complied immediately. When you can’t locate a civil marriage record, look for censuses (Federal and State) and City Directories that can place your ancestor in a particular place around the time of the marriage. Then investigate churches in the area where the couple might have been married.