Re: New York City Clerk's Office Marriage Index #general

A. E. Jordan

Original Message From: Steven C Kleinman
My grandparents were married on January 4, 1914 in Brooklyn and I have a
copy of their marriage certificate. However I can't seem to find them in
the index that was recently digitized. What date should I be searching?
There's a lot of misinformation floating around about this file.

To answer Steven's specific question if the marriage was the beginning of
January 1914 the license (if there is one) would have been done in December
the prior year. The filing was any where >from a few days to a few weeks
before the wedding. Since January 4th is too soon in the month try the prior

Also as I understand it the couple could file for their license in any borough.
Start with the borough where they were married and if you do not find them
there try where the bride lived and try Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx first
because they were more populous. Queens and Staten Island are less likely.

But here's the issue -- licenses were not required when the couple was being
married by an established religious organization. A lot of people got them
but not everyone especially in the earlier years. So while it might be worth
looking if they do not show up in the index it might be a filing error or it
might be they did not have one. As the staff at the Archives explains it you
could walk into a religious institution and say you wanted to be married and
that institution could fill out the paper work for you or they could just go
ahead any marry you.

Further there's a lot of discussion that these forms are three pages so that
have so much more information That's not what I have found after years of
working in these forms. Most of the instances I have seen the information is
the same as the more recognized Health Department certificate. Second even
though there are multiple pages it is very repetitious. Rare have I found
that people gave different answers to questions such as place they were born
between the two sets of documents.

Where I have found the Clerk's files to be helpful is that sometimes you have
difficulty reading the Health Department forms so this gives a second chance
to hope the handwriting or information is clearer. Also the Clerk asked for
the details of a divorce versus the Health Department which only asked for
the number of marriages and if there was a prior one how it had been resolved,
ie divorce, widow, etc. If it was a Divorce in theory the Clerk recorded the
date and court when the divorce was granted.

The other big challenge which people are discovering is these files are sorted
by date and the first two letters of the last name and the handwriting can be
difficult to read.

Good luck searching. Hope this helps to clear up some of the misinformation
about these files.

Allan Jordan

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