Researching Pennsylvania Marriages
USGenWeb Archives Pennsylvania Marriage Project
Record of Pennsylvania Marriages Prior to 1810 Clarence M. Busch. State Printer of Pennsylvania. 1895. Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, Volume 8.
Record of Pennsylvania Marriages Prior to 1810. Lane S. Hart. State Printer of Pennsylvania. 1880. Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, Volume 9.
Governor's Accounts, including Lists of Marriage, Tavern, Peddlers Licenses and Ships' Registers, 1742-1752, 1759-1763. 4 volumes. Series 21.6. Lists of marriages for the periods 1742-1752 and 1759-1763. For marriage licenses the information provided is date fee was received, amount of fee, name of the groom, and occasionally name of the bride.
Names of Persons For Whom Marriage Licenses Were Issued in the Province of Pennsylvania, Previous to 1790, Pennsylvania Archives Series. Second Series, Volume 2.
Marriage Bonds, Philadelphia County, 1784-6. Pennsylvania Archives, Sixth Series, Volume 6, pages 285-310.
Mid to Late 1800s
During the 1852-54 time period, the Register of Wills of each county was required to maintain records, and was required to send duplicates to the state. Reporting of marriages to that office was rarely done, so records are not complete. Film for counties that kept these early records is available from the Family History Library through your local Family History Center. For the time between 1855 and 1884, no official state or county marriage records were kept. Some larger cities kept records - Philadelphia, Lancaster, Pittsburg - during this time period.
Post 1885 Marriages
After October 1, 1885, all Pennsylvania counties have been required by law to keep and have kept marriage records - applications for licenses and returned marriage licenses - in the Office of the Clerk of the Orphans' Court of each county. Each application contains the date of the license, and the names, ages, birthplaces, and residences of each of the parties. Returned licenses include the names and addresses of the contracting parties, their addresses, the date of the marriage, and the name of the person performing the ceremony. Many counties did not issue certificates. Instead, the data was entered in the county marriage ledger.
The Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg has digitized the Record of Marriages for the years 1885-1889. The digitized information is divided into two sections, one for grooms and one for brides, with the records covering the entire state of Pennsylvania. The information is grouped alphabetically by the surname of the bride or groom, and then arranged chronologically by date of entry. Data provided about each marriage includes: name of bride, bride’s place of residence, bride’s place of birth, age and race of bride, date of marriage, name of groom, occupation of groom, groom’s place of residence, groom’s place of birth, age and race of groom, and county where license was procured. Transcriptions of much of this material can be found in the county folders of the PA USGenWeb Archives.
FamilySearch.org is indexing the 1885-1950 Pennsylvania county marriage records. This collection includes civil marriage records created in Pennsylvania counties. The records include registers, affidavits and marriage licenses. In some instances, divorce records are recorded with marriages.
County marriage dockets for the period after September 30, 1885 are also available on microfilm from the Family History Library through your local Family History Center, from the court house in the county where the marriage occurred, or by writing to the county genealogical or historical society.
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USGenWeb Archives Marriage Project: Pennsylvania
USGenWeb Archives Marriage Project
Judy Banja, Pennsylvania Marriage Project Coordinator