Trying to find a marriage record for my ex father in law and ex mother in law, for my kids family tree. I know they were married in Missouri. I also know it was before 1962, they had a son that year. I am not sure when he divorced his first wife. I don't have a range to go by. I have check all the censes reports, both Ancestry and FamilySearch. The last child of ex father in law as born in 1957 and was divorced from 1st wife after that and married my ex mother in law before 1962 when their son was born.

  • 2
    Are these people still living?
    – shoover
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 15:44
  • no they have both died.
    – Lorraine
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 15:48
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    As per our Privacy Policy in the help center please include links to evidence (e.g. obituaries, death notices, funeral notices) for each of them so that we do not need to redact their names.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 20:58
  • ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/… I can not find a link for Harriet Himmer Howard
    – Lorraine
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 21:39
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    Hi, welcome to G&FH.SE! I have taken the names out of the title of your question to make it more general. Unlike message boards and forums where users are encouraged to put names in titles, we focus on the problem or task that you need to do. Please use the edit function under the question to tell us what you have already tried (like in your comment where you say you can't find your ex-MIL's obit in the Bay county papers). You can learn more about how the site works in the help center.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 23:42

1 Answer 1


Start a document about your search for the marriage record. At the top put the names of your ex-in-laws and the task you want to do, which is to find information about their marriage.

You can do this by using a paper journal, a Research Log form (free forms are available via FamilySearch and at many other places on the web), a document in ordinary office software like Word or Pages. Use what works for you. Write down what you have looked for, where you have search, and how you searched. It sounds silly to write everything out as if you won't remember it tomorrow, but writing things out in full is helpful. It helps you find gaps and to think of other things you could try to search. It also helps during those times when we have to leave our research behind and come back to it later.

Another tool that you can use as you search is a family timeline. Make a table (on paper, in a spreadsheet, or make a table in a document) and list the events of a person's life in chronological order. It helps to make a list of sources and to put the sources in chronological order as well. This helps you when you see that the information you have about an event is recorded in a document created long after the event took place.

You said:

I know they were married in Missouri. I also know it was before 1962, they had a son that year.

When we make statements like this, it helps to ask: How do I know? It's natural to assume that people married before their child was born, but sometimes that's not what happens, or the marriage may take place less than 9 months before the birth.

We may hear information through family members. Suppose my cousin tells me that his parents married in South Carolina and he was born the next year. He wasn't born yet, so he couldn't have been a witness to his parents' marriage. He knows what someone has told him, and he may have passed that information to us in good faith, but the person who told him may have made a mistake or he might have misunderstood what he was told.

Couples sometimes cross state lines because they have a shorter waiting period in the state next door, or for other reasons.

Another reason you may not have found a marriage in indexes like Ancestry's Missouri, U.S., Marriage Records, 1805-2002 is that the names could have been misread or badly transcribed, or been spelled in the original index in a different way than you expected. Women who have been married multiple times can appear in a second marriage record with the surname of their first husband.

Be systematic and record:

  • What places you have searched, how you searched, and any wildcards you used. Don't just say the name of the website. Record the specific collections or databases you searched. It's okay to start with a general or 'global' search, and to record that you started with a global search, but you'll have more control over your results if you go to the search page for a specific collection and search from there.
  • Record any strategies you used, like switching the first and last names in the fields (I had to do this once to find my husband's people in the census)
  • Record your negative findings as well as noting what records you find.

You may have to widen your search beyond the time and places you've already tried. Let's say your kids' folks married in 1961. If an index was entered into the computer and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was used, it may have mis-read the date and the index might say another year, or have the year of the entry above or below the line associated with their names. On Ancestry, look on the right-hand sides of a collection's search pages and look for Browse this collection to read the index pages directly, as if you were reading the paper printouts.

Sometimes we can find things by browsing and reading historical newspapers instead of searching. Does the local paper have a Year in Review article in early January? I've found obituaries by getting an exact date of death from the January 1 paper and then reading the papers from that week in the previous year to find the obituary.


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