Icon Marriage Records

Marriage Records

Colonial Marriage Records
1640-1776
Marriage Licenses
1776-1886
Marriage Records
1865+
Marriage License Applications
1886+
Marriage by Banns
1890-1941
Marriage Certificates
1914-2004
Marriage Indices
at the MSA
Marriage References by Robert Barnes Church Records How to Order
Marriage Records

Miscellaneous Vital Records References from Archives' Collections


Colonial Marriage Records 1640-1776

From 1640 to 1776 the General Assembly enacted over a dozen laws regulating marriages and the recording of them. These acts concerned the freedom of the individual to contract marriage, the publication of intention to wed, and the identity of the person performing the ceremony. Also governed by law were the liturgy used in the ceremony, race and relationship of the parties, and recording of the ceremony.

Beginning in 1640 the province of Maryland required the bride and groom to take an oath before the county court that they were not apprenticed or under the governance of a parent or guardian. A 1664 law prohibited marriage between white women and black men. This act remained in effect for over 300 years, finally being repealed in 1967.

Beginning in 1666 the traditional marriage vows of the Anglican church were required by law. This law prescribed proper notice of intention to wed before the ceremony could occur. The county court issued certificates stating that the required notice had been heard or posted, usually three weeks before the wedding. The Governor and Council could make special dispensation rescinding the waiting period.

The first act for the recording of births, marriages, and burials passed in 1650 (revised in 1654, 1658, 1678, and 1692). County clerks were required to record these events in registers. The 1678 act exempted blacks, Indians, and mulattos, unless after 1692 their mothers were white women. Only a few records, available at the Archives, are extant today.

The following are card indices which refer to records that imply marriage. Dates refer to the record, not the marriage:

MARYLAND INDEXES (Maryland Marriage References) var. d. Index 123, MSA S1527
MARYLAND INDEXES (Marriage References, Hodges Index) 1674-1851. Index 5, MSA S1396
MARYLAND INDEXES (Marriage References, Magruders Index) var. d. Index 99 MSA S1487

The following are card indices to marriage records of the coloinal period:

MARYLAND INDEXES (Bible and Tombstone Records, Index) var. d. Refers to printed or manuscript records Index 32 MSA S1406
MARYLAND INDEXES (Church Records, Marriage Index) 1686-1958, various dates for 15 churches Index 27 MSA S1400
MARYLAND INDEXES (Marriage Licenses and Records, Index) 1649-1720; 1774-1886, incomplete Index 6 MSA S1397

The following are colonial marriage records available at the Archives:

Record Series Name Paper Microfilm
CHARLES COUNTY COURT (Births, Deaths and Marriages) 1654-1706 MSA C653 MSA CM1234
KENT COUNTY COURT (Proceedings) 1675-1707 MSA C1091 N/A
KENT COUNTY COURT (Land Records) 1675-1707 MSA C1068 MSA CM662
SOMERSET COUNTY COURT (Births, Deaths, and Marriages) 1649-1720 MSA C1739 MSA CM956
TALBOT COUNTY COURT (Births, Deaths, and Marriages) 1657-1691 MSA C1840 MSA CM1009

A 1695 law, revised in 1696, transferred the recording of vital records to the vestries of the Protestant Episcopal parishes in the colony. The extant parish registers, available at the Archives, constitute the official marriage records during most of the colonial period. See the Maryland Religious Records Project for a list of the church records held at the Archives.

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Marriage Licenses 1776-1886

The General Assembly in 1777 required marriage licenses to be obtained from the clerk of the county court. The act defined kindred relationships forbidden to marry, stipulated a licensing fee (most of which went to the state), and required marriage by Christian clergy. Civil marriages were not permitted until 1963. As specified by the law ministers returned lists of those married to the Treasurer of the Western Shore or Treasurer of the Eastern Shore. Many of these returns, 1777-1804, available in MARYLAND STATE PAPERS (Scharf Collection) MSA S1005, are indexed in Robert Barnes' Maryland Marriages (LIBRARY, REF A-1-3).

The 1777 law applied only to the marriage of white citizens. Not until 1867 did the marriage laws apply to blacks. In addition, the publication of banns on three Sundays in the county where the female resided could be used in lieu of a license. Quakers could marry without a license in accordance with their practices. Licenses generally are listed chronologically in record books, and sometimes include a sequential number assigned by the clerk. The date of the license, names of the two parties, and sometimes the minister's name are recorded. No other information is given, and the license does not prove a marriage occurred. Often the record contains an accounting of the fees paid. The Directory of Maryland Ministers by Edna Agatha Kanely (LIBRARY, REF A-5-2) can be used to determine the church or parish associated with the minister's name on the license. Many of the license records have been abstracted and published.

The Maryland State Archives holds marriage license indices listed below.

Index Series Name Paper Microfilm
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Index, Male) 1851-1885 MSA C212 MSA CM205
BALTIMORE COUNTY (Marriage Licenses, Male Index) 1777-1851 Indexes 7-15, MSA S1398 N/A
BALTIMORE COUNTY (Marriage Licenses, Female Index) 1777-1851 Indexes 16-26, MSA S1399 N/A
BALTIMORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1851-1886 MSA C378 MSA CM175
CARROLL COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1837-1851 N/A MSA CM1282
CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1851-1867 N/A MSA CM1285
FREDERICK COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1778-1851 MSA C827 N/A
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1851-1865 MSA C828 N/A
FREDERICK COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses, Female Index) 1778-1851 N/A MSA CM492
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Female Index) 1851-1865 N/A MSA CM471
FREDERICK COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses, Male Index) 1778-1851 N/A MSA CM493
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Male Index) 1851-1865 N/A MSA CM480
KENT COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1796-1851 MSA C1083 N/A
KENT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1851-1886 MSA C1084 N/A
WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1851-1919 MSA C1968 N/A
WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1851-1886 N/A MSA CM1139
WASHINGTON COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1799-1851 MSA C1967 MSA CM1155

The Maryland State Archives holds the marriage licenses listed below.

Record Series Name Paper Microfilm
ALLEGANY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1865 N/A MSA CM71
ALLEGANY COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1791-1851 N/A MSA CM759
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 MSA C114 MSA CM116
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1899-1964 MSA T2647 N/A
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1777-1851 MSA C113 MSA CM95
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1885 MSA C213 N/A
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Licenses) 1885-1886 MSA T989 N/A
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1865 N/A MSA CM204
BALTIMORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1873-1885 MSA C377 N/A
BALTIMORE COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1777-1851 MSA C376 MSA CM174
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1867-1886, 1996-1999 MSA T1854 N/A
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1867-1886 N/A MSA CM35
CAROLINE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1852-1886 MSA C535 N/A
CAROLINE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1865-1886 N/A MSA CM255
CAROLINE COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1774-1851 MSA C534 MSA CM1213
CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 N/A MSA CM297
CARROLL COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1837-1851 N/A MSA CM298
CECIL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 MSA C633 MSA CM350
CECIL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1777-1851 MSA C632 MSA CM316
DORCHESTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 MSA C718 N/A
DORCHESTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1880 N/A MSA CM449
DORCHESTER COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1780-1841 MSA C717 MSA CM447
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 MSA C826 N/A
FREDERICK COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1779-1851 MSA C825 N/A
HARFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 N/A MSA CM581
HARFORD COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1782-1851 N/A MSA CM586
HOWARD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 MSA C1000 N/A
HOWARD DISTRICT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1840-1851 MSA C999 N/A
HOWARD DISTRICT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1840-1850 N/A MSA CM627
KENT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 MSA C1082 N/A
KENT COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1796-1851 MSA C1081 N/A
MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1867-1899 MSA T2490 N/A
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1798-1839 N/A MSA CM724
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 MSA C1261 N/A
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1884 N/A MSA CM776
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1777-1851 N/A MSA CM783
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1887-1890 MSA C1450 N/A
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1817-1906 MSA T1702 N/A
QUEEN ANNE'S C OUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1871 N/A MSA CM837
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1817-1851 N/A MSA CM831
SOMERSET COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 N/A MSA CM932
SOMERSET COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1796-1851 N/A MSA CM964
ST. MARY'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriages Licenses) 1851-1863 N/A MSA CM890
ST. MARY'S COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1794-1851 N/A MSA CM905
TALBOT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1867 N/A MSA CM970
TALBOT COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1794-1839 MSA C1890 N/A
TALBOT COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1794-1851 N/A MSA CM1012
WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1886 MSA C1966 MSA CM1141
WASHINGTON COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1799-1851 MSA C1965 MSA CM1144
WORCESTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1890 MSA C2028 N/A
WORCESTER COUNTY COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1795-1851 MSA C2027 N/A

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Marriage Records 1865+

In 1865 Maryland required the recording of births, deaths, and marriages at the county level, with further reporting to the Secretary of the Senate. The secretary furnished standardized marriage record books to the court clerks. Persons officiating at marriages were required to return a copy of the license to the appropriate court clerk who would record the marriage date in the marriage record. Most clerks continued to maintain separate license books until 1886 when record keeping was again revised. A few clerks retained use of license books even later than that. The marriage records created under the 1865 law contain the date of the license; age, race, residence, occupation, and marital status of the bride and groom; date and place of marriage; and name, title, and residence of the minister. Records after 1886 exclude the minister's title and residence. Entries usually are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the male's surname and then chronologically.

A duplicate set of records for several jurisdictions exists because the clerks were required to file copies with the Secretary of the Senate. Compliance was poor and ceased completely after 1867. An 1882 law eliminated the state filing until 1914 when an act provided that clerks file marriage and divorce information with the Bureau of Vital Records. The 1865 law did not require everyone to be licensed. As before, only whites were subject to the law. Specific provisions for blacks were enacted in 1867 and allowed them to register proof of marriage prior to that date with the court clerks. Quakers and those having banns announced in a church remained exempt from the license law.

The Maryland State Archives holds indices to some of the records listed below.

Index Series Name Paper Microfilm
ALLEGANY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Female Index) 1885-1900 N/A MSA CM73
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Index, Male) 1851-1885 MSA C212 MSA CM205
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Index, Male) 1886-1914 MSA T2426 N/A
BALTIMORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT  (Marriage Record, Index) 1885-1890 MSA C380 N/A
CHARLES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Index) 1936-1992 N/A MSA CM1342
CECIL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Female Index) 1928-1935 N/A MSA CM353
CECIL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Male Index) 1928-1977 N/A MSA CM354
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Index) 1865-1890 MSA C830 N/A
HOWARD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Index) 1921-1998 MSA T3709

N/A

SOMERSET COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Index) 1866-1962 N/A MSA CM946
ST. MARY'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Index) 1977-1986 MSA T3366 N/A
TALBOT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Index) 1966-1984 MSA C2998 N/A 
WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Index) 1886-1960 N/A MSA CM823
WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record, Index) 1961-1984 N/A MSA TM367

The Maryland State Archives holds the following marriage records for the years 1865+ listed below.

Record Series Name Paper Microfilm
ALLEGANY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1914 N/A MSA CM72
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1904 MSA C115 N/A
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1905-1933 N/A MSA CM117
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Record) 1865-1885 MSA C214 N/A
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Record) 1886-1919 MSA T991 N/A
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage Record) 1865-1919 N/A MSA CM206
BALTIMORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1915 MSA C379 N/A
BALTIMORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1896-1956 MSA T1234 N/A
BALTIMORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1945 N/A MSA CM176
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1882-1958 N/A MSA CM36
CAROLINE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1886-1928 N/A MSA CM256
CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1914 N/A MSA CM299
CECIL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1886-1928 N/A MSA CM352
CHARLES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1886 MSA T2167 N/A
CHARLES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1921 N/A MSA CM401
DORCHESTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1886-1941 N/A MSA CM450
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1888 MSA C829 N/A
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1993 N/A MSA CM494
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1941-1975 MSA T2585 N/A
GARRETT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1873-1957 N/A MSA CM531
HOWARD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1916 N/A MSA CM628
KENT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1888 MSA C1085 N/A
KENT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1952 N/A MSA CM664
MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1939-1980 MSA T1928 N/A
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865- 1867 MSA C1262 N/A
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1886-1923 N/A MSA CM775
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1866-1927 MSA T1703 N/A
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1915 N/A MSA CM838
SOMERSET COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1866-1963 N/A MSA CM945
ST. MARY'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1960 N/A MSA CM891
TALBOT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1920 N/A MSA CM1003
WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1887 MSA C1969 N/A
WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1865-1915 N/A MSA CM1142
WICOMICO COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1868-1981 N/A MSA CM1064
WORCESTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Record) 1866-1917 N/A MSA CM1107

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Marriage License Applications 1886+

An 1886 law required signed applications for marriage licenses. It also restricted marriage to males over age twenty one and females over sixteen, later changed to twenty one and eighteen and then eighteen and sixteen. After 1939 pregnant females, and after 1949 putative fathers over age sixteen, could obtain licenses without parental consent. In 1937 a waiting period of two days was added. The law specified that marriage application records contain name, residence, age, race, occupation, and marital status of each party; date of the application, sometimes date of the license and marriage; consent of the parents or guardians of minors; and signature of the applicant. For some unknown reason the law was not applied in Baltimore City where the records include only the names of the parties, date of application, and signature of the applicant, all of which is written in pencil. Entries in the county and city records are arranged chronologically by date of application.

The Archives has marriage license applications for the jurisdictions named below.

Record Series Name Paper Microfilm
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1935 MSA T499 N/A
BALTIMORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1896 MSA C273 N/A
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1953 N/A MSA CM45
CECIL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1978-1979 N/A MSA CM351
CHARLES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1935 MSA T2165 N/A
DORCHESTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1952 MSA T2319 N/A
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1938-1941 MSA T170 N/A
HOWARD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1919 MSA C955 N/A
MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1962 MSA T944 N/A
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1975 MSA T757 N/A
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1908-1926 MSA T1701 N/A
SOMERSET COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1938 MSA C1788 N/A
ST. MARY'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1976 MSA C1522 N/A
TALBOT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1897-1965 MSA T1633 N/A
WORCESTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License Applications) 1886-1900 MSA C1997 N/A

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Marriages by Banns 1890-1941

From the time marriage licenses were first required in 1777, Maryland allowed individuals to marry without a license if public notice was given at a church on three Sundays prior to the wedding, a process known as publication of banns. An 1890 law provided for the recordation of these marriages by requiring the ministers to file a certificate with the court clerk who would record the information. The records include the date and place of marriage, names of the parties and minister, and name of the church. Entries are arranged alphabetically by the first letter of the male's surname and then chronologically. Marriages by banns prior to 1890 can be found only in church records.

The provisions for marriage by banns were repealed in 1941 and replaced with a requirement that all individuals obtain licenses. The Archives has marriages by banns in the original and/or on microfilm for the following jurisdictions:

Records Series Name Paper Microfilm
BALTIMORE CITY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS (Marriages by Banns) 1890-1941 N/A MSA CM207
CHARLES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriages by Banns) 1905-1940 MSA T2168 N/A
CHARLES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriages by Banns) 1905-1941 N/A MSA CM402

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Marriage Certificates 1914-2004

Baltimore City
1914-1940
Counties
1914-1930
Counties
1931-1940
State
1941-2004

In 1910 the General Assembly created the Bureau of Vital Statistics as an agency under the State Department of Health (Chapter 560, Laws of 1910). The Bureau of Vital Statistics was responsible for supervising the registration of births and deaths in Maryland. The Bureau became responsible for marriages in 1914 with the passage of a new law: "It shall be the duty of the Clerk of the Court in Baltimore City and in the several Counties of the State of Maryland to transmit to the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State Department of Health . . . a report of each marriage that has been reported to them." (Chapter 745, Laws of 1914). The purpose of the law was to ensure against the loss or destruction of the records filed at the circuit courts.

From 1914 to 1940 the Bureau of Vital Statistics maintained one series of marriage certificates for the counties and another series for Baltimore City. In 1941, the Bureau began filing the Baltimore City certificates with the county certificates, creating a single series of records. Unfortunately for researchers, the Bureau did not begin indexing the certificates until mid-1951 when the General Assembly authorized them to provide certified copies of marriages performed after June 1, 1951 (Chapter 76, Laws of 1951). Also in 1951, the Bureau was given its current name of the Division of Vital Records.

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Baltimore City 1914-1940

During the years 1914 to 1940, the Bureau of Vital Statistics arranged the Baltimore City certificates chronologically by year and month. Within each month they are sometimes alphabetical by the groom's name and sometimes in no particular order at all. Because there is no index, one must know the month, year, and groom's name to find a certificate. Each certificate provides the names, ages, birthplaces, races, occupations and residences of the couple, the date of the license, the date and location of the marriage, and the name of the minister. The certificates also indicate whether there was a prior marriage and the names of the consenting parents, or guardians, if one of the parties was a minor. If neither the bride nor the groom was a minor, the parents are not listed.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE, DIVISION OF VITAL RECORDS (Marriage Certificates, BC) 1914-1940 MSA T317 Microfilm N/A

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Counties 1914-1930

There is one series of county marriage certificates for the years 1914 to 1930, arranged in soundex order by bride's name, and an index to be used for cross-referencing when a researcher is unaware of the bride's name. The certificates list the names, ages, races, residences, occupations, and birthplaces of the couple, the date of the license, the date and place of the marriage, and the name of the minister. The certificates also indicate whether there were any prior marriages and list consenting parents or guardians, if one of the parties was a minor. Though a paper soundex listing by groom's name exists in S1498, no paper marriage certificates are extant from this time.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Marriage Certificate List, Counties, Male) 1914-1930
This series is a listing of marriage certificates arranged in soundex order by the groom's name, which acts as a very incomplete index of marriage certificates in SM184. This is only to be used as a cross-reference to SM184 when users are unaware of the bride's name.

MSA S1498 MSA SM185

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Marriage Certificates, Counties, Female) 1914-1930
This is the more complete series arranged in soundex order by the name of the bride.
Paper N/A MSA SM184

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Counties 1931-1940

Between the years 1931 and 1940 the Bureau of Vital Statistics had the county marriage certificates arranged in soundex order by the name of the groom. The certificates give the names, ages, races, birthplaces, occupations and residences of the couple, the date of the license, the date and place of the marriage, and the name of the minister. The certificates also indicate whether there were any prior marriages and list consenting parents or guardians, if one of the parties was a minor.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE, DIVISION OF VITAL RECORDS (Marriage Certificates, Counties) 1931-1940 MSA T318 Microfilm N/A

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Counties and Baltimore City 1941-2004

Beginning in 1941, the Bureau of Vital Statistics maintained both city and county marriages as a single series of records.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Marriage Certificates) 1941-1948, May MSA S1772 Microfilm N/A
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE, DIVISION OF VITAL RECORDS (Marriage Certificates) 1948, May -2004; Microfilm scans available for years 1951-February 1990. MSA T315

Microfilm SM259 

1941-1951
For the years 1941 to June 1951, the certificates are arranged chronologically by year and month. Within each month they are arranged alphabetically by jurisdiction and then alphabetically by the groom's name. The certificates list the names, ages, races, birthplaces, and residences of the couple, the date of the license, the date and place of the marriage, and the name of the minister. They do not list the names of parents or guardians unless one of the parties was a minor. Unfortunately, there are no indexes for these years. One must know the year, month, county and groom's name to find a certificate.

1951-2004
In June 1951, when the General Assembly authorized the Division of Vital Records to provide certified copies of marriage records, the Division began to file the certificates numerically by certificate number. In order to access the certificates, the agency created two indexes, one by bride and one by groom. The Archives has copies of the indexes on microfilm:

Index Series Name Paper Microfilm
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE DIVISION OF VITAL RECORDS (Marriage Certificates, Female Index) June, 1951-1968 MSA S1851 MSA SM224
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE DIVISION OF VITAL RECORDS (Marriage Certificates, Female Index) 1968-1972 MSA S1851 MSA SM226
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE DIVISION OF VITAL RECORDS 1951-1968 (Marriage Certificates, Male Index) June, 1951-1968 MSA S1851 MSA SM223
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE DIVISION OF VITAL RECORDS 1951-1968 (Marriage Certificates, Male Index) 1968-1972 MSA S1851 MSA SM225
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE DIVISION OF VITAL RECORDS (Marriage Certificates, Index) June, 1951-1989
The paper index has been used extensively and is damaged; some entries are not readable and pages are missing.
MSA S1851 N/A

The certificates contain the names, ages, races, birthplaces, residences and marital status of the couple, the date of the license, the date and place of the marriage, the name of the minister, and the church or office where the marriage was performed. These certificates no longer include the names of consenting parents or guardians of minors.

For marriages that occurred after 1989 the certificate number must be obtained from the Division of Vital Records. The Archives does hold the marriage certificates through 2004. The certificates contain the same information as described for the years 1951 to 1972, except that they omit the information on race.

For marriage certificates after 2004, please contact the circuit court in the county where the marriage occurred.

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 County Marriage Licenses 1886+

County Circuit Courts also maintain marriage licenses.  Holdings vary by a number of factors, including county and time period.  As with all permanent record material, marriage certificates are periodically transferred to the Archives.  These county maintained marriage certificates are nearly identical to those created by the Division of Vital Records, but may assist where gaps prevent use of the statewide copy.

Index Series Name Paper Microfilm
CECIL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1978-1982 MSA T3102 N/A
WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Index) 1851-1919 MSA C1968 N/A

Record Series Name Paper Microfilm Electronic 
ALLEGANY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1869-2004 MSA T3875 N/A N/A
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses, Military) 1943-1956 MSA T1122 N/A N/A
CALVERT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1867-1886, 1996-1999 MSA T1854 N/A N/A
CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1880-1978 MSA T3979 N/A N/A
FREDERICK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1941-1994 N/A MSA TM547 N/A
MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1867-1899 MSA T2490 N/A N/A
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1906 MSA C1450 N/A N/A
QUEEN ANNE'S COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1817-1906 N/A N/A MSA CE277
TALBOT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage License) 1840-1940 MSA C3010 N/A N/A
WORCESTER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT (Marriage Licenses) 1851-1890 MSA C2028 N/A N/A


Requesting Marriage Research

In order to find a marriage that occurred since 2004, you must contact the circuit court of the county where you think it took place.

For research on marriage records please send requests to:

    Maryland State Archives
    350 Rowe Blvd.
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    fax: 410-974-2525
    e-mail: ref@msa.maryland.gov

Email and fax orders must be placed using a credit card, either Visa, Mastercard or Discover. The Archives does not accept American Express. Copies of marriage certificates/records are $35.00. Certification is provided for all copies.

When requesting a marriage search, please provide the full names of the bride and groom, the county where the marriage took place, and the date. Please note that the names of parents are not included in any of these civil marriage records.

The Archives also has church marriage records. Please provide the full names of the bride and groom, county, denomination, church name and date when requesting a search of church registers. A few of the church marriage registers include the names of parents. Please keep in mind that the Archives does not have the records of all churches in Maryland.

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This information resource of the Maryland State Archives is presented here for fair use in the public domain. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: Rights assessment for associated source material is the responsibility of the user.

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