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How Do I Find a Marriage Date or Location?

What You Need:
Related Resources
Cemetery Records
Census Records
Family Sources
Land Records
Military Records
Obituaries
Probate Records
Vital Records

Elsewhere on the Web
Clues in Marriage Records
International Genealogical Index (IGI)

Full Name
Before searching for an ancestor's marriage date or location you will need to know their full name (including maiden name for your female ancestors) as well as the name of their spouse. Without this information you will find it very difficult to locate records and, even if you locate them, you will find it almost impossible to verify that it is indeed your ancestor.

Approximate Year of Marriage
If you do not already know, you will need to find the approximate year in which your ancestors were married. You can often estimate a wedding date using records which give the number of years married (i.e. census records) or from the date of birth of the couple's first child.

Approximate Place of Marriage
If you do not already know, you will need to find the approximate location in which your ancestors were married. The best way to determine this is to look for the birth location of their oldest child. Locating the place where their parents lived prior to the marriage may also help lead you to a marriage location.

Where to Look:

The following records are all good places to look for approximate year or place of marriage, as well as an actual marriage date/location. Please keep in mind that the availability of these records will vary by time period and country/region. They are listed in descending order of importance.

Marriage Records
Marriage records are indexed at the national level for many countries, although in the U.S. they are kept at the state level (or county level prior to the late 19th century) and in Canada they are maintained at the provincial level. Besides marriage certificates, marriage information can also be found in marriage banns, marriage license applications, marriage licenses, declarations of intent and marriage returns.

Death Records
Death records were kept in many areas long before marriage records and, therefore, can often be easier to locate. A death record may contain a marriage date and/or the names of the parents of the deceased.

Church Records
Church registers contain some of the earliest records for marriages - usually predating any type of civil registration.

Newspaper Notices
Marriage banns, marriage announcements, obituaries...

Family Sources
Bible records, interviews, letters, diaries...

Census Records
Census and tax records may include the number of years married. Ages or birth locations listed for the children can also help to narrow down marriage date/location. Keep in mind that availability and usefulness of census records varies widely by country.

Cemetery Records
Tombstones, funeral home records and/or sexton's records may include the spouses name and/or the date of marriage.

Pension Records
Pension application records, especially military pension records, will often include marriage information.

Land Records
Deeds, homestead applications, mortgages and other property records may help to narrow down a marriage date as they may often mention the spouse.

Probate Records
Wills and estate settlements may help you to narrow down a marriage date. For example, a will for one of the parents of the couple in question may name children and spouses among the family and heirs.

International Genealogical Index
The International Genealogical Index is a partial index to vital records from around the world created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). While it is a good source for marriage information, it should always be verified by going back to the original record.



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