Banns: Posting of an announcement of a coming marriage to allow advance
notice to those who may have reason to protest the marriage.
Common Law Marriage (sponsalia per verba de paesenti): Agreement made by
parties competent to marry, to take one another as husband and wife.
License: Special permission to do something, whereas without the license,
could be legally prevented from doing this.
Marriage: Voluntary and exclusive contract, recognized by the state, for
the lifelong union of two people.
Restrictions on Marriage Records: 50 years
Exceptions: person named on certificate, next of kin, legal representative
Marriage records in New York State break down into 3 different types:
colonial, county and town.
When marrying in colonial times, people would either publish banns in their church
for 3 consecutive Sundays or obtain a civil marriage license from the Prerogative Court from 1753-1783.
Since obtaining the license was so expensive, (it could cost a month's wages), many chose
to simply publish banns.
Many marriage bonds were destroyed in the 1911 fire. Surviving records can be found at the
State Archives. Marriage bonds from 1753-1783 can
be found in the following book available from the LDS:
New York Marriages Previous to 1784.
Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1984. FHL book #: 974.7 V28n 1968.
New York does not have marriage records dating back to when each county was formed.
From 1908-1935, county clerks kept marriage records, but would forward a copy to Albany.
The LDS has these on microfilm.
When vital registration started in 1881, copies of all certificates were sent to Albany,
while the originals remained with the county. From 1847-1850, some marriages were simply
recorded by justices of the peace, while others were recorded by school districts.
New York City began registering marriages prior to 1881. The Municipal Archives has some
marriage records from as early as 1830. However, all pre-1866 marriage records are in
Clerk's Office License & Dept of Health Certificate
From 1908-1937, marriage records involved both the city clerk's office and the New York
City Department of Health (DOH). The license was issued by the clerk's office and the actual certificate by the DOH.
It is important to remember that when searching for marriage records to obtain both the license and certificate.
Both can be obtained at the Municipal Archives for the following dates:
Manhattan & Brooklyn 1908-1929
Information on DOH Marriage Certificate issued: 1908-1937
Names, addresses, age, color, marital status, birthplace (usually just country or state) of both bride and groom
Father's name & mother's maiden name of both bride and groom
Number of times married
Place & date of marriage
Signatures of bride and groom
Names and signatures of witnesses
Name, address and signature of person officiating at wedding
Information on City Clerk's Marriage License issued: 1908-1937
In addition to above information, also contains-
Specific birthplace (usually including town)
Father and mother's country of birth
Former spouses, living and dead
If divorced, when and where granted
An official marriage record consisted of three parts:
1. Affadavit for License to Marry: includes all the above information. On the reverse side was the Certificate of Consent, to be signed by parents or guardians of minors wishing to marry.
2. Marriage License: similar to affadavit, but was signed by the city clerk. This document (with clerk's signature) gives permission for the couple to marry.
3. Marriage Certificate: the person officiating at the wedding was to sign and return this document to the city clerk's office for filing.
It is uncommon to find a marriage certificate but not a license. If this is the case, it is probable the license was filed in a separate county or applied for at an earlier date than expected.
It is a good idea to continue searching the license indexes, backwards. It is far more common to find a license and no certificate.
Informal or Common Law Marriage
During the colonial period, marriages were regulated by the
civil authorities. An informal marriage (or common law) was
recognized as valid. Informal marriages enabled parties to
marry when there was no clergy or civil official available to
officiate, ie: pioneers.
For most of New York State's history, informal marriages were a
legal agreement. Cohabitation was not equivalent to an
actual informal marriage agreement. However, the New York
State legislature started to chip away at the legality of these
contracts as early as 1902.
Prior to 1933, New York State would recognize a common law
marriage if the agreement was entered into within the borders
of the state, with the exception of those contracted during the
January 1, 1902 to January 1, 1908 time period. During that
period, current statutes rendered them invalid.
On April 29, 1933, New York State completely abolished the
informal or common law marriage under Section 11 of the
Domestic Relations Law. Under this law, any common law
marriages in existence on that date remained as valid and
legal as a ceremonial marriage. New York State will not
recognize a common law or informal marriage regardless of how
long the couple has been together or even if they refer to each
other as husband and wife.
NOTE: New York State will recognize a common law
marriage if the agreement was entered into in a jurisdiction
that permits them. New York State residents may temporarily
reside in or travel to a state that permits them, the common
law marriage may be contracted in that state.
Where to Order Marriage Records
The Municipal Archives has marriage records for:
New York City June 1847-1848; July 1853-1929
NOTE: Pre-consolidation vital records for Queens exist for 1847-1849 and 1881-1897. Vitals for Long Island City exist for 1871-1897.
* NOTE: Separate records are kept for marriages in the following areas of Brooklyn:
Flatbush 1847-1851; 1880-1894
New Lots 1881-1886
New Utrecht 1880-1894
Remember, any marriage that took place in the Bronx prior to 1898 will be filed under the borough of Manhattan.
For marriage records after 1930, you will need to contact the city clerk's office where the marriage took place.
Marriage Records at the LDS
The LDS has an impressive collection of microfilmed marriage indexes and certificates.
microfilm # 1324912 item 1
NOTE: This film contains marriages performed in New York City and surrounding areas by mayors, aldermen and justices of the peace.
New York City Index to Marriages, All Boroughs 1888-1937
Bklyn 1894-1897; NYC August 1888-Nov 1893 (A-K) # 1653852
NYC Nov 1893 (J-Z) - 1897 # 1653853 item 1
All Boroughs 1898-1899 # 1653853 item 2
NYC 1900 # 1653853 item 3
Queens, Staten Island & Bklyn 1900; All Boroughs 1901-1905 # 1653854
All Boroughs 1906-1909 # 1653855
All Boroughs 1910-1913 # 1543903
All Boroughs 1914-1917; All Boroughs & NYC (A-HIPPLER, Arthur C) 1918 # 1543904
All Boroughs & NYC (HIPPLER, Arthur C-Z)1918; All Boroughs 1919-1921 # 1543905
All Boroughs 1922-1924; All Boroughs (A-JABELON, Samuel) NYC 1925 # 1543942
All Boroughs (JABELON, Samuel-Z) NYC 1925; All Boroughs (A-RANDOZZO, Granzano) Bklyn 1928 # 1543943
All Boroughs (RANDOZZO, Granzano-Z) Bklyn 1928; All Boroughs 1929-1931; All Boroughs (A-CIRINCIONE, John) Bklyn 1932 # 1543944
All Boroughs (CIRINCIONE, John-Z) Bklyn 1932; All Boroughs 1933-1935; All Boroughs (A-TATE, Alvin L) NYC 1936 # 1543945
All Boroughs (TATE, Alvin L-Z) NYC 1936; All Boroughs 1937 # 1543946
NOTE: This index is alphabetized by surname of groom.
Bronx Marriage Index to Brides 1898-1937; Index to Delayed Marriages 1902-1907
ADAMS, Marie B 1898-LALLY, Rose 1920 # 1983782
KABACK, Anna 1920-SEMMIEL, Julia 1928 # 1983783
SELDIN, Jeannette 1928-KOPELOV, Ida 1935 # 1983927
KOOK, Ruth 1935-ZYSK, Sophie F 1937 # 1983928 item 1
Groom Index, Delayed Marriages:
ANDERSSON, John E 1902-WOLF, Henry 1906 #1983928 item 2
Bride Index, Delayed Marriages:
ALF, Theresa 1902-ZUBRADT, Theresa A 1907 # 1983928 item 3
Simon, Joel R. Brooklyn Marriage Index 1866.
Oceanside, NY: J. R. Simon, 1993. FHL book # 974.723/B1 V22s. ISBN 0963836803.
New York City:
Maher, James P. Index to Marriages and Deaths in the New York Herald 1835-1865
2 volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1987. FHL book # 974.71 V22m for Volume 1 and 974.71 V22m v.2 for Volume 2. ISBN 0806300843.
Scott, Kenneth. Marriages and Deaths from the New Yorker 1836-1841
Washington DC: National Geographic Society, 1980. FHL book # 974.7V29sc. ISBN 0915156466.
New York City Groom Card Index
1866-68 A-Z; 1869-71 A-Q; 1869-70 R starting microfilm # 1522995
NOTE: This index is used in conjunction with the film New York City Marriage Records 1866-1937. The marriage records comprise 1458 microfilm rolls.
New York Marriages 1810-1814, As Reported in the Commercial Advertiser
microfilm # 17785 item 4
New York County Marriage Records 1830-1850
microfilm # 1023301
New York City Register of Marriages 1829-1887
Index 1873-1883; A-M 1884 # 1671674
Index M-Z 1884; 1885-1886 # 1671685
Reg. Vol. 1-3 1829-1860; Reg. Vol. 4 (A-G) 1861 # 1671673
Vol. 4 (G-Z) 1861; Vol. 5-7 1862-1865 # 1671674
Vol. 8-10 1866-1867; Vol. 11 (A-L) 1868 # 1671675
Vol. 11 (M-Z) 1868; Vol. 12-13 (A-V) 1867-1870 # 1671676
Vol. 13 (V-Z) 1870; Vol. 14-16 (A-P) 1871-1872 # 1671677
Vol. 17 (P-Z) 1872; Vol. 18-19 1873-1874; Vol. 20 1876-August 1877 # 1671678
Vol. 20 (Aug 1877)- Vol. 22 (Sept 1879) # 1671679
Vol. 22 (Sept 1879) - Vol. 25 (July 1882) # 1671680
Vol. 25 (July 1882) - Vol. 27 (Nov 1884) # 1671681
Vol. 27 (Nov 1884) - Vol. 29 (July 1886) # 1671682
Vol. 29 (June 1886) - Vol. 30 1887 # 1671683
Marriage Records at the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&BS)
Department of Health records only
1898-1937 groom index
1898-1937 bride index
These records are for former Westchester County towns.
1880-1895 villages of South Mount Vernon and Wakefield
1882-1895 town of Westchester
1894-1897 groom index - town of Brooklyn
1847-1851 town of Flatbush
New York County:
1830-1854 marriage registers
NOTE: These are mostly civil marriages from the NY county clerk's office.
1829-1865 marriage registers
1866-1887 groom card index
1888-1897 groom card index
1866-1897 bride index
1847, 1881-1897 town of Newtown
1847-1849, 1881-1897 town of Flushing
1847-1848, 1881-1897 town of Jamaica
1881-1897 town of Long Island City
NOTE: For marriages prior to 1871, see Newtown.
1881-1897 marriage register
NOTE: The towns of Long Island City, Flushing, Jamaica and Newtown on separate reels in chronoglogical order.
1881-1897 groom index
NOTE: There are separate indexes for each city, town and village.
1889-1897 village of College Point
NOTE: For marriages prior to 1889, see town of Flushing.
1889-1897 village of Jamaica
NOTE: For marriages prior to 1889, see town of Jamaica.
1890-1897 village of Far Rockaway
1895-1897 village of Richmond Hill
NOTE: For marriages prior to 1895, see town of Jamaica.
1897 village of Rockaway Beach
Throughout most of New York State's history, a divorce
was almost impossible to obtain. During the Dutch colonial
period of New Netherland, non-judicial divorces were granted on
occasion. In 1664 when the English conquered the colony,
were granted, but on a sporadic basis. It was during this
the Duke's Laws came into effect. These laws stated
a husband or wife travelled into any forraigne Parts,
heard from for 5 or 6 years, then he or she may be presumed
dead and the
remaining spouse was free to marry. When New York returned
control, petitions of divorce were made to the governor or
legislature. Very few of these divorces were granted.
The year 1787 saw some changes in regards to divorce. The power
divorces was moved from the state legislature to the Chancery
the same year, New York's first divorce law was enacted. This
that it was not lawful for someone convicted of adultery to
but the other spouse was free to marry again as if the
convicted spouse was
dead. This law would not be amended to allow the guilty
spouse to remarry