My GG-Grandparents had 8 children, lived in Massachusetts, USA. The Massachusetts Archive has no record of marriage and all I have is that 1st child was born in 1891 (Brockton, MA). My GG Grandmother's siblings were married in the general vicinity (Roman Catholic). None of the relatives that I have found know any information regarding this event. How do I find marriage record from just possible year(s) when the state archive has no records?


1 Answer 1


Where have you searched so far, and how did you attempt to search? You've talked to some relatives (cousins?) but you haven't said if you or they are working exclusively online, or whether any of you have access to local resources. Have you checked for clues in your own family records? Is there a family Bible?

Sources of Genealogical Information is a checklist for places you might find different types of information. For marriages, some of the records they suggest are:

  • Vital Records
  • Church Records
  • Census Records: the 1900 US Federal Census (Q10: Number of years married) or 1930 US Federal Census (Q15: Age at first marriage)
  • Newspapers
  • Bible Records
  • Probate Records

Where can you find those records? Many sites have state research guides. It's common for the pay sites like Ancestry.com to have Learning Centers, and very often those resources are open to everyone, not just paid subscribers.

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has articles on these topics, and more:

In many cases it helps to be creative and to search in ways that don't require searching by name. You say that that state archives don't have a record. What is your basis for making that statement? If you used the online vital records search at the Massachusetts State Archive, be aware that there are errors in their database. For one town, I searched for the town name and the marriage year without any names, and discovered that a whole range of the alphabet was missing. So a record may exist -- you just won't find the pointer to it by searching that online index.

Search the Massachusetts marriage records on Family Search.org but don't just try searching for your 2G-grandparents by their full names, because if their names are not spelled the way you expect them to be, you won't find them. Try putting in the groom's name and the first names of his parents and no surname, and see how many hits you get, then try to narrow it down. Use different combinations and see how the search results change.

In Massachusetts vital records, there is the possibility that the same marriage could be registered three ways: once for the town where the marriage actually took place, once for the town in which the groom lived, and once for the town in which the bride lived. So if the bride and groom actually lived in nearby towns before they got married, then married in Brockton and lived there afterwards, you might find a record in one of the other towns.

Another surprising source for marriage information: city directories. Around 1890 some of the Price and Lee directories listed marriages and deaths that had taken place in the previous year. So if you have any city directories that have your 2G-grandparents in them, don't just look at the alphabetical listings. Look at the Table of Contents and see if that directory has a page of Marriages for the previous year. Browse to that page and read the image, because there's no guarantee that any OCR used to make the index will have picked up the names correctly, or that the name will be spelled exactly the way you think it should be. For some of my Massachusetts families, the City Directory listing was an important clue (and for some, it's the only information I have so far).

For newspaper records -- many newspapers had 'local news' sections over a wide area of the state, so try a search for the town name and the word 'married' to see what kind of articles are displayed, then mine those articles for other keywords to use if a name search doesn't work.

Look at the newspaper itself to see how it lists local news, then search for the header for that section accordingly. It might say "births" "deaths" and "marriages" -- it might say "born" "died" "married" or some other variant. A search for "Brockton" should show what area papers cover news from that area. Also check coverage of the newspaper in the repository you're using because it is rare for a library or website to have a complete run of a newspaper.

If you let us know what you've tried so far, we can give more specific suggestions.

  • 1
    Roman Catholic and New England suggest recent immigration - Quebec, Ireland, Italy. This adds naturalization records to the list of resources and raises the possibility that the marriage took place in a different jurisdiction. The original poster, @artc1tx, might comment on whether these ancestors were immigrants.
    – bgwiehle
    Jul 15, 2014 at 22:37

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