If you are trying to fill in your family tree then marriage certificates will likely be one of the most important public records that you will use in your search. Along with birth certificates and death records, marriage records are some of the most useful documents that people rely on when researching their genealogy. However, finding your ancestors' marriage records is not always the easiest of tasks. Record keeping can be spotty in many places and the further back into the past you dig the harder it tends to be to track down reliable records. With that in mind, here are four steps for helping you find your ancestors' marriage records.
Searching a marriage index should probably be your first step towards finding clues about your ancestors' marriages. A lot of marriage indexes have been digitized and they usually contain information that has been transcribed from marriage certificates. This makes marriage indexes relatively easy to search and quite useful. You should, however, always keep in mind that transcription errors can occur, so approach marriage indexes with some degree of skepticism.
Visit a cemetery
If you know where some of your ancestors may be buried then a visit to the cemetery may yield some important information. While some cemetery records are now online, many more are not, especially small cemeteries that may have very limited resources and few employees. Browsing around these cemeteries, you may find an ancestor you've been searching for and, in many cases, that ancestor's spouse may be buried alongside him or her. This information could provide vital clues to help you along in your search.
While church records are also becoming increasingly digitized, like cemeteries they are still very hit-and-miss in terms of the quality of their online recordkeeping. Just because you can't find church records online doesn't mean they don't exist. If you know the town where your ancestors came from then a visit to the local church is definitely worthwhile. Even small churches may have records about marriages, baptisms and deaths dating back centuries.
While newspapers may be struggling to survive nowadays, not too long ago they were an integral feature of communities all over the globe. Head to your local library and ask the librarian there about what newspaper archives they have on file. Marriage announcements in newspapers can help you pin down when and where your ancestors got married. While you can browse the newspapers for this information, it is especially useful if you have at least some idea of when the marriage you are looking for took place.
Building your family tree is a fun and exciting experience that allows you to uncover the story of where you came from. Marriage certificates are a vital document when conducting genealogical research and knowing how to uncover marriage records is fundamental in helping you fill in the gaps in your own research. As the above article shows, while the internet provides lots of information about marriage records, you should also be prepared to get outside and visit churches, cemeteries, and libraries to help you in your search.
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