Marriage is one of life’s most meaningful events. It marks the beginning of a new family and the blending of two extended families and their unique traditions. A marriage can also bring with it a collection of hallowed family stories, learned and shared just as the new couple is beginning to make new ones. But, in many cases, precious family details have been lost in the sands of time, and it is left to the living to piece them together.
Historical records can fill in the holes of a family story, and marriage records, particularly, are among the most helpful. These unique records often have a piece of information that is a key to unlocking hard-to-find generations in a family tree—the bride’s maiden name and sometimes even her parents’ names.
Indexing marriage records makes information within the records searchable and helps reconnect people with their family stories. With the help of thousands of volunteer indexers, the US Marriages Project did just that. Although this project is completed, you can be involved in other projects for the US and see which states need the most help at https://www.familysearch.org/indexing/projects/country/us.
My Marriage Record Story
We asked our volunteers (you!) how a marriage record has helped in your family history work, and you have shared over 400 stories with us. Each one of them is inspirational and testifies to the great work you are doing. You can add your own story of how a marriage record has helped you here.
“I was working on indexing Nebraska marriage licenses, and I was able to index my own great-grandparents’ marriage license. It was a true blessing to do this. I was so blessed to be able to do this. I had no idea where they were married until this record came up. I truly am so happy that Heavenly Father allowed me to do this great work.” — Ron
“Marriage records can give not only the names and dates of a couple, but the couple’s family’s information: a place, witnesses who may be related, and, often, the office or church connection of the officiator. The latter can give me a hint about the relatives’ faith so I can search in a church graveyard for further relatives. I cannot tell you how many times our family had picnics in graveyards across the country, seeking out family members from headstones or records. Indexing marriage records has taught me how much information is available on a record such as this, causing me to take every opportunity to look at the actual image in order to glean this extra insight.” — Allyson
This picture of Flora (renamed Barbara) was sent to her sisters at the orphanage in September 1937 when she was 5 years 8 months old.
“My mother and her sisters were all put into the Colorado Home for Dependent Children in 1935. The youngest sister, Flora Emma Fox, was 3 years old at the time. The older girls all went to various foster homes, but Flora was adopted by a couple that lived in California. Their names were George Newton Hale and Clara Buckland Hale. Flora was re-named Barbara Ann Hale. When their biological mother passed away in 1955 there was a small insurance payment for each of the sisters. When the lawyer contacted the Hale family, he was told that Barbara had married young and they did not know where to find her. My mother, aunt, and I spent over 30 years trying to find a name to do more research on so we could find her. Finally, thanks to indexing, about a year ago I had a breakthrough! I found a marriage record for Barbara Ann Hale. She married a man named Albert Edward Hurst on April 1, 1950 in Los Angeles, California. I know it was her because the names of her adoptive parents were included on the marriage record. At this point in time, I have not yet been able to find any additional information, but at least I have a place to begin looking. I can try and find births of children, a divorce record, or even obituaries and possibly find more information on my aunt. She was born on January 14, 1932 so she could possibly still be alive. At least, I hope, sometime in the future to be able to find her or at least her descendants. This marriage record was the piece of information that has opened more doors for continued research.” — Kim
“Yesterday, February 13th, I was indexing Connecticut marriage, birth, and death records. I actually came across one that didn’t have the town list. I recognized a lot of the names as from my own family history. I went onto Ancestry and put the name of Hezekiah Brainerd in my family tree. I found that it was the same person. Previously, I didn’t have the information about his marriage date or place, who he married, or who his children were. They were all on the document I was working on. It was amazing. I am going to enter all their information into FamilySearch and submit to do their temple work. When I checked on Ancestry, it only had a couple of his children, but not any birth dates, etc. This was amazing! On the same document I found two other families and their information also. This was in the town of Haddam, Connecticut. These families settled that town, so this was very exciting and wonderful for my family and for me.
Thank you for this! Also, this was a record that was partly done, so I was grateful for that too!” — Ann
“Family starts with marriage usually. I think of how happy they are as they head with their special friends over to see the judge or justice or other leader, religious, usually. How special marriage is. We found about 55 people in a direct line from my husband’s grandmother due to Tennessee marriage records batches. We helped index about 995 of the records when the projects first came out. Though we never got to do one of our own ancestors, as far as we know, we helped others get their ancestors, and the records have helped us to the tune of 55 more names just in my husband’s line alone. We logged in and saw the sources, and marriage records have blessed us most recently. The search continues. The word search is in the title FamilySearch for a reason. THANKS!” — Dee
“We always knew that my father-in-law had been married before (a WWII end-of-war marriage) he met and married my mother-in-law. We only knew his first wife’s first name: Frances. After years of searching and finding no links to the mysterious Frances, I finally found an indexed marriage record, which gave me her full name and the place they were married, which was totally unexpected because the place was very different than the family lore. This record led us to finding the actual marriage document. That marriage record led to the names of both of her parents and her two sisters. It also informed us that Frances was the daughter of the minister that married them. Though they were divorced (or perhaps the marriage was annulled, since no divorce record has ever been located) soon after the marriage took place, and they had no children, Frances never remarried. She lived and died within 50 miles of where my father-in-law eventually raised his family. I’m not sure he ever knew that, since I only found that information through an indexed Social Security death record as I was tying up the ‘rest of the story’ of Frances.” — Colleen