When you conduct a genealogical search, you want to get as far down the family tree as possible. The marriage records have always been primary sources of valuable information as they show how families are formed. They are also extremely reliable as they are kept by authorities and other formal institutions. The question is how far back they can take you. Let’s find out.
A Bit of History
In modern times, marriage records are kept for statistical and legal purposes. They can also be used by the health and law enforcement authorities. In their modern form, formal records have been kept since the beginning of the 20th century in most cases. In fact, in many places, the compiling of databases began in the second half of the century. Before this time, each local authority was responsible for keeping its own records. Some have kept records since the second half of the 19th century while others have documents from earlier periods as well. Basically, you can expect to go some two centuries back while searching for your ancestors.
You should knot that the records kept by local and state authorities are not the only ones which present valuable sources of information. Before the introduction of legal marriage certificates, the documents issues by the church where the marriage took place had legal power. That is why it makes great sense to search church archives too. You may be able to find records from over two centuries ago. Libraries and local genealogical societies may also have older records.
Thorough Search
In order to find the largest possible amount of information about your family, you should make your search as thorough as possible. It is best to use all sources of marriage records which you can find. Now you do not have to visit the places where the documents are kept in person. You can access the digitalized information from the records directly online. You can search the records of the different authorities and organizations individually or use a larger database which includes a range of different sources.
The more information you have for performing the search, the better. You will save a great deal of time and effort if you know the name of one of the spouses and the exact place where the marriage has taken place. You should also try to define a fairly narrow period for your search.
You can readily use the information which you find in marriage records to go further and further back into the history of your family.