West Virginia, County Marriage Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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West Virginia
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West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
West Virginia, United States
West Virginia flag.png
Flag of West Virginia
US Locator West Virginia.png
Location of West Virginia
Record Description
Record Type Marriage
Collection years 1780-1970
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
County clerks, West Virginia


What is in This Collection?

This collection consists of an index of West Virginia county marriage records. Data is searchable for all counties. However, records within each county may not be available for the full year range. It includes records from 1780 to 1970.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

County marriage entries usually contain some or all of the following:

  • Date of application for marriage license
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Name and age of groom
  • Groom's race and marital status
  • Groom's residence and occupation
  • Birthplace of groom and sometimes, birth date
  • Names of groom's parents, including maiden name of mother
  • Name and age of bride
  • Bride's race and marital status
  • Bride's residence
  • Birthplace of bride and sometimes, birth date
  • Names of bride's parents, including maiden name of mother
  • Name and title of person performing the marriage

Collection Content

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of West Virginia, marriages, click here. Early county marriage records were handwritten into bound books with multiple entries on each page. Early marriage bonds and licenses were usually handwritten on loose papers that were later bound. Pre-printed register books containing many entries per page were introduced in 1853. Beginning about 1895, the registers contained one entry per page.

Clerks of each County Court recorded marriages performed by religious or civil authorities. Records consist of bonds, applications, licenses, returns and marriage entries. The state of West Virginia began collecting marriages from the counties in 1964. Most marriages in a county were recorded except for certain religious groups that may have recorded marriages in their records but did not register them with the civil authorities.

Marriages began to be recorded as each County was created, some as early as 1780. This collection includes marriages as late as 1970.

Counties in West Virginia recorded marriages to legalize marital relationships and to safeguard the interests of wives.

The marriage date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time the marriage occurred are quite reliable, though there is still a chance of misinformation. Other data such as age or birth place have more chance of error because they are based on the memory of the informant.

How Do I Search This Collection?

To use these records it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the person at the time of marriage
  • The name of the intended spouse
  • Other identifying information such as the approximate marriage date and place

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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • The name of the officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • The information in marriage records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Known Issues With This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.


Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 6 March 2017. County clerks, West Virginia.

Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.

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