FamilySearch’s Top 10 Most Searched Record Collections: Collection 10—Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950

March 20, 2015  - by 
Pennsylvania Marriage Records

The 10th most searched record collection on the FamilySearch website is the Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950. This collection of marriage records is one of the finest vital record resources available for Pennsylvania vital marriage information. It includes civil marriage records created in Pennsylvania counties for the years 1885 to 1950. These records include registers, affidavits and marriage licenses. In some instances, divorce records are recorded with marriages.

The following information might typically be found on a marriage license that was recorded between 1885 and 1913:

  • 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

In addition to the previous information, marriage licenses after 1913 may also include the following:

  • Maiden name of mothers
  • Birthplaces of the father and mother

Information about Pennsylvania Marriage Records

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 Probably due to lack of compliance, the law was repealed in 1855.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.

Search Now

FamilySearch has more than 2 million marriage records currently available for this time period. You can search this collection of marriage records for your ancestors by clicking on the Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950 link.

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  1. bueno poco a poco se aprende de buen corazon

    (english translation) well, little by little it is learned with a good heart.

  2. How do I Log off the family tree site after I put in new data ? Isn’t it harmful to leave the site open? Yet it’s almost impossible to find the answer ! Can you help Me ?

    1. Merrilee, you can log off FamilyTree by clicking on your name in the top right-hand corner of the page, and then clicking ‘sign out’.

  3. I indexed and arbitrated Pennsylvania County Marriages 2.5-3 years ago..

    What I want to know is when are Pa County Marriages and other State’s county marriages going to be way-pointed?

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to browse Pennsylvania or any county marriage records…

    Try It.. open Pennsylvania or any County marriages collection page, click on “Browse through ….. images” and then choose a county and years you want to browse..

    You CAN’T! All you have is the digital folder numbers.. Not names of counties and years of records.

    It has been 3 whole years since Pennsylvania County marriages project was completed… Isn’t it about time to make them browsable?

    There are so many records on FamilySearch with images that are not browsable because they have not been way-pointed. Maybe stop the whole process and take the time to enter location and years onto all those digital folders so they can be browsed??

    1. Elmer, I have forwarded your question to others to try to find a solution for your problem, but I have not had any luck yet. You may call FamilySearch Research Support at 18664061830 and they may be able to help explain why these records aren’t browsable yet.

      1. It is not a solution to “my” problem. It is a solution to “FamilySearch’s” problem.

        FamilySearch has many collections that are SUPPOSED to be Browsable, but that are not browsable.

        Why it would be nice to no WHY they have been neglected and not made browsable, the important thing is to get them browsable today.

  4. On March 31, I made a comment about the Pennsylvania County marriages and Most other States County marriages as not being browsable.. when they are supposed to be…

    What happened to my comment?

  5. I have been doing some searching on my Lancaster family tree and it has been very interesting so far! But still have alot more to go and I have trying to do more searching on my grandfather named Harland Francis Lancaster who was born in Danvers Massachusetts on April 16th 1904 died April 4th 1969 in Orchard Park New York! And what year did Ruth Janet Lancaster and Harland Francis Lancaster get married?

    1. Paige.. You dd not say anything about Ruth Jane Lancaster and Harland Francis Lancaster.. You didn’t say when they were born, or where they were born… or where they lived or about when or where do you think they were married? It is a little difficult to find info, without having any info given to start with..

      1. Ruth Janet Boynton was born on July 14th 1907 in New Brunswick Canada and died on November 11th 1984 in Chambersburg Pennsylvania! Her parents names are William B Boynton and Sarah Boynton! She had two brothers named Clark Boynton Harlald Boynton. And also she had two sisters named Lois Boynton Jessie Boynton!

    2. Harland F Lancaster was born April 11, 1903 in Danvers.
      Harland married Bernice Bridges on March 26, 1929 in Bell County, Texas.

      1. Hi again! Wow Harland F. Lancaster was married before Ruth Janet Boynton! What year did Ruth Janet Lancaster and Harland Francis Lancaster get married? Thanks for your help on this search! Paige H. Lancaster

  6. I have a copy of my grandparents marriage but it is not very easy to read. it was jan 24 1906 for ben chmielski she was lewosza Leonora szilforska It is very hard to read. Pennsylvania county marriages, 1885 -1950 oo4811570 image 431 of 449