Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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This article describes a collection of records scheduled to become available at
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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Location of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
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Location of Pennsylvania
Record Description
Record Type Marriage
Collection years 1885-1915
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of an index and images of Philadelphia city marriage license application packets containing multiple documents, such as marriage applications, certificates, guardian consents, etc. These records are arranged in packets that are numbered by a license number. This collection covers records from 1885 to 1915.

In 1854 the city and county of Philadelphia were combined. In 1860 the city passed a law requiring the Board of Health to register all marriages. Marriage records from 1857 to 1885 include the marriage register and the marriage return from the person who performed the marriage. The marriage registers are large bound volumes with entries recorded chronologically.

In 1885, Pennsylvania authorized the Orphans’ Court in each county to register marriages. By 1885 all marriages were supposed to be licensed in Pennsylvania. They were recorded by the clerk of the Orphans' Court within each county.

Marriage records from 1885 to 1938 include the marriage license and a duplicate marriage certificate. The license is a pre-printed form that the clerk numbered sequentially. The officiator returned the duplicate certificate to the clerk for filing. The licenses are filed sequentially by license number. Marriage records after 1885 are loose papers instead of bound registers.

The most reliable information is the date and place of the marriage and the license date. The accuracy of the other information depends on the reliability of the informant(s), usually the bride and groom. Marriage records may be inaccurate as brides and grooms sometimes intentionally provided false information.

What Can these Records Tell Me?

Information on the records varies by time period. You may find any of the following:

  • Full name of bride and groom
  • Birth date and place
  • Occupation
  • Current residence
  • Previous marriage
  • Whether or not parties are related
  • Date of license
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Race
  • Parents' names
  • Parents' birthplaces
  • Mothers’ maiden name
  • Signature of witnesses
  • Name of official/minister performing the ceremony

Collection Content

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of Pennsylvania marriages click here.

Sample Image

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • At least one other piece of information

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.

  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the information to find other records such as birth, christening, census, land and death records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of Pennsylvania, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Library Catalog

Citing this Collection

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.  

Collection Citation:

"Philadelphia Municipal Marriage Records, 1885-1915." Database with Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2017. Citing Philadelphia County Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record will be available with each record once the collection is published.

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