More and more people are scouring through public records in search of information about their family histories. The internet has made it easier for you to trace your ancestry. Many state and local governments have made their records available online for individuals to search. For example, Texas marriage records at both the state and local county levels contain more than merely that a couple were married in the state. The applications for marriage licenses can give you information you might not have available to you about an ancestor.
Verification letters available from Texas marriage records
The Texas Department of State Health Services does not issue marriage licenses. Licenses are issued at the county level of government, but DSHS can issue verification letters stating the date and place of marriage for people married between 1966 and today. The person requesting the letter does not have to be one of the parties to the marriage. Verification of a marriage that took place before 1966 requires a request to the county in which the marriage license was issued. The fee for a verification letter from the state is $20.
Texas DSHS cannot provide a copy of the actual marriage license because those records are maintained at the county level. If you are single, you can also get a letter from the state verifying that fact. You have to file the same application as for obtaining verification of a marriage, but the result will be a letter verifying your single status.
Marriage license application indexes in Texas
The DSHS does not have marriage license applications, but it does keep indexes containing data collected from marriage license applications. If you are researching your family history, the information contained in a marriage license application might be useful to learn more about the individuals mentioned in it.
The indexes compiled by the DSHS are available for download from the department's website. The department cautions individuals that the data might contain errors because the information is copied from other sources.
Searchable county marriage license records
Each county in Texas has the authority to issue marriage licenses. Those licenses are a public record maintained at the county clerk's office in the county that issued the license. Documents that are available online vary from one county to another. For example, marriage licenses in Harris County are available beginning with those issued from January 1, 2003 until the present.
Marriage certificates are filed after a marriage ceremony has taken place by the person who officiated at the ceremony. These records are also available at the office of the county clerk where the marriage license was issued.
The availability of records and the fees charged to obtain copies of them varies from one county clerk's office to another. You should go to the website for the county clerk in which you believe your ancestors might have been married to search for verification of the marriage. Keep in mind that a marriage license issued by one county in Texas can be used anywhere within the state.