If a Jewish couple were married according to Jewish law (with a rabbi officiating, etc.), would the marriage show up in any city records?

Looking for early 1900s, around 1917 or so, in Texas (specifically Houston and Abilene).

  • 1
    Some ultra Orthodox Jews only marry through Halakha (Jewish Law) and do not register their marriage with civic authorities. This certainly occurs with some degree of frequency in Ultra Orthodox communities in Rockland and Orange counties, New York.
    – JJLL
    Jun 30 '17 at 22:26

I would assume the answer was "yes" until I found out otherwise.

The FamilySearch Wiki article about Texas Vital Records says:

From 1837 to 1966, the county recorders issued marriage licenses and kept marriage registers. Copies of the records can be obtained by writing to the clerk of the county where the license was issued. For information from 1966 to the present, write to the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

One difficulty, however, is that the couple may not have gotten married in the towns where you are expecting to find them. Check the article in the FamilySearch Wiki on Gretna Greens to see destination cities where couples may have gone in order to get married (e.g. to take advantage of civil marriage laws that are less restrictive than their hometown).

Civil records in the United States during this period may be held at the local level rather than statewide, so try to find other means of discovering the location of the marriage, such as announcements in newspapers. Then use the information you've discovered to track down a civil record or a record created by a rabbi.


This was common is certain areas of Europe where Jews were charged extra taxes to get married under civil law, but I haven't heard of this being prevalent in the US. I would assume in the US their marriage would be registered in city or state records, but of course you'd need to know which city or state to check.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy