The value of Marriage Records
Marriage Records have long been a valuable resource for genealogists and other researchers. They are a form of Primary Record along with birth certificates, death certificates, some types of church records and civil documents. Primary Records, among other considerations, are first hand or eyewitness accounts to a particular event's occurrence. They are by far the most preferred documents in courts of law in terms credibility, reliability and accuracy.
Among the many types of Marriage Records that you can utilise in your research are the following: Marriage certificates, marriage licenses, marriage indexes, wedding announcements and newspaper releases and articles.
Marriage Records may seem like simple documents-and they are-but many of them may contain more information than you would have first expected. Marriage Records may contain any of several important details such as: the date the marriage took place, the location of the wedding ceremony, the names of the parents of both bride and groom, and even the names of witnesses to the union. Some records may even include more extensive detail about the mothers' residences and maiden names. The inclusion of these details may lead you to uncover more facts about your subject matter; you may discover a previously unknown bloodline for example or trace a distant relation.
Churches have traditionally been a good source of Marriage Records. Many parishes have kept and maintained extensive records over the years of weddings as well as other important events in their congregation's religious life. It would be a good idea to narrow down your search to churches in your research subject's general location and to know the approximate time period when the event took place. This will help lessen the time you spend pouring over church documents, which may be quite extensive.
Speaking of pouring through documents, you will have to ask the parishes in question about their policies regarding perusal of their records. They may allow you or a researcher that you designate to have access to their vaults. Some will probably have some restrictions regarding allowing actual physical access to the files, so they may do the research for you. Keep in mind however that most churches have generally few resources available to them in terms of manpower and their time is often limited as well, so treat every act as a favour and be patient and considerate. A donation to the church you are requesting help from would be a good way to show your appreciation.
Town records are also a good place to find Marriage Records, particularly if no church wedding took place. Records kept by town clerks will likely be as informative as the ones maintained by the local parish. Ask the town office where the records are located and how you may be able to access them.
Don't forget to look through past issues of the town's newspapers; they may contain important information such as marriage announcements, paid advertising by the family of the couple and even feature articles if either or both of the families are prominent residents of the town.
Original Authors: Doods Pangburn
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 20/06/2008