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Marriage Records Help


Search Tips

Last Name:
This field is generally required. The last name field will search for all names that begin with the letters entered. You must enter at least three letters. For example, if you enter Roger, you will get Roger, Rogers, Rogerson, etc. This field is not case sensitive. Do not use apostrophes. You can use spaces in names, but it is not necessary (i.e. O Malley will bring up the same results as Omalley). You do not need a last name if you are searching by exact date or by county and year.

First Name:
This field is optional. The first name field will return names that begin with the letters entered. For example, if you enter "Ed," you will get Edith, Edmund, Edward, etc.

County:
This field is optional. Enter the county where you think the event took place. You can view a map to determine adjacent counties, which can be helpful in your research, especially if your ancestor lived near a bordering county. You can search county and year without using a last name.

Event Date:
This field is optional. Entering the month, day, and year of the event can be helpful when searching for possible name variations.

Year:
This field is optional. Enter the four digit event year.

Information

1. What is the Wisconsin Pre-1907 Vital Records Index?
The Wisconsin Pre-1907 Vital Records Index includes over 1 million names from Wisconsin marriage records dated between 1852 and September 30, 1907. Vital records, including marriage records, were maintained at the state and/or county level. The Society owns microfilm copies of state level vital records. The online database was created in 2005 by reformatting the state’s microfiche index, adding 27,000 names from delayed birth records (courtesy of the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society) and adding several hundred thousand names from marriage records in counties (Richland through Winnebago) that were not in the microfiche index.

2. How can I use the index?
You can search the index in order to find your ancestors in the pre-1907 Vital Records Index. You can then use the information from the index to find the records on microfilm at the Wisconsin Historical Society or any other institution that holds the microfilm of pre-1907 Wisconsin marriage records. You can also order copies directly from our website, simply by clicking "order a copy."

3. What will I receive if I order a copy?
You will receive a photocopy of the record that is on microfilm. Due to Wisconsin state law, we can only issue uncertified copies of the records and no vital records can be digitized and published in electronic form.

4. How long will it take?
Orders are usually mailed within two weeks of receipt.

5. What does it cost?
Each marriage record costs $15. Wisconsin Historical Society Members receive a 10% discount. Learn more about how to become a member. There is an additional fee for international orders.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why didn't I find my ancestor?
Some marriage records may be indexed in unexpected ways, perhaps under a name variation. You many want to take a look at these search tips which are meant give you some different ways to search the index and some guidance on how to track down vital records.

There are some records that were never registered with the state and are not part of our index. There have also been indexing errors that make it difficult to find ancestors in the index. Some of these errors were part of the fiche created in the 1970s and some were introduced when we digitized the index and other errors exist because the person writing the name on the record misspelled the family name and it was then misspelled in the index. All of these combine to make genealogy challenging.

2. What marriage records are indexed?
After a marriage was recorded at the county level, local officials normally forwarded that information to the state. Wisconsin law required counties to register these events since 1852, but the law was not strictly enforced prior to 1880. Most records therefore date from 1880 or later. The index contains over 1 million marriage records. There are generally entries for the bride and groom. No single statewide index exists for vital records created after September 30, 1907.

3. What information can be found on a marriage record?
It varies from record to record. Any of the following may be included on a marriage record: Full name of husband, name of father of husband, maiden or married name of mother of husband, occupation of husband, residence of husband, birthplace of husband, full name of wife before marriage, name of father of wife, maiden or married name of mother of wife, birthplace of wife, time when marriage was contracted, place, town or township, and county where marriage was contracted, color of parties, by what ceremony contracted, names of subscribing witnesses, name of person pronouncing marriage, residence of person last named, date of certificate of marriage, date of registration, and any additional circumstances.

4. How was the Marriage Records Index created?
The Society holds microfilm of the marriages recorded by state officials prior to September 1907. The microfilm is not arranged by name, however, and an index was necessary to locate a specific record. During the 1970s, state officials created such an index on microfiche. With grant funding from the Schoenleber Foundation of Milwaukee, this microfiche index has been converted to electronic form and published as a searchable database. Judy Vezzetti and volunteers were instrumental in indexing marriages for an additional 21 counties.

5. What will I receive if I order a marriage record?
You will receive a photocopy of the selected marriage certificate printed from the microfilm.

6. Where can I get a certified copy of a marriage certificate?
You can get a certified copy from:

Wisconsin Center for Health Statistics
Dept. of Health and Social Services
P.O. Box 309
Madison, Wisconsin 53701

7. Where can I get a copy of a marriage record from after 1907?
You can contact one of the following:

Wisconsin Center for Health Statistics
Dept. of Health and Social Services
P.O. Box 309
Madison, Wisconsin 53701

or Register of Deeds at the appropriate county courthouse. View a list of addresses.

8. What if I don’t find the person I am looking for?
Take a look at these additional search tips.

9. What about death and birth records?
Pre-1907 births and deaths are included in the index. There are now over 2 million vital records in our index.

10. Are there other genealogical research tools available online?
You can search through more than 150,000 obituaries, personal sketches, and other short biographies to try to find your Wisconsin ancestors in the Wisconsin Name Index that has been recently integrated into the Wisconsin Genealogy Index, along with Pre-1907 Vital Records.

You can also search and order copies from the Wisconsin Adjutant General's Regimental Muster and Descriptive Rolls (aka Red and Blue Books) created during and after the Civil War at www.wisconsinhistory.org/genealogy/ogrs/index.asp.

11. How Should I Cite This Information?
If you wish to cite vital records data found in this online index, please first bear in mind that this information is not a legal vital record and that its information does not constitute legal verification of the fact of the event. For the purposes of a bibliography entry or footnote, you should follow this model:

Wisconsin Historical Society. Wisconsin Genealogy Index: Marriage Record Entry for Kenosha County, Volume No. 02, Page No. 166; viewed online at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/vitalrecords/ on [insert today's date here]

Who will you find?

Society members receive a 10-percent discount on:

  • Vital records and microfilm
  • Civil War service records
  • Plus more!

Become a member today!

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