State Marriage Records
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
A marriage license is a document that is either issued by a local government or a church that sanctions two people getting married. Many people consider a marriage license—and the resulting marriage record—a sacred document as it holds both religious and societal implications.
The average marriage license contains the names of the two people getting married, the location, the date and the name of the official who performed the marriage. Proof of age is often required to receive a valid marriage license. Such documents are typically issued at the county courthouse immediately after two people are wed, however, the actual certificate can take a bit of time to arrive via United States Postal Service mail.
A marriage certificate can be quite valuable when trying to trace one's lineage or family tree or prove one's heritage. More importantly, a marriage license is typically the only record that accurately records a woman's maiden and married name, which makes them extremely important in terms of genealogical research.
Prior to 1996, the CDC collected marriage statistics as part of its vital statistics. However, in January 1996, this practice ceased due to budgetary considerations and limitations in the information provided by the states.
Starting in 2003, the statistics of marriage and divorce levels are included in the data that is published by the NCHS. It allows users to access the marriage and divorce rate trends for their state if this information is needed.
If you need additional information on marriage and divorce statistics, the National Survey of Family Growth (abbreviated NSFG) collects detailed information about cohabitation, divorce, marriage, and remarriages. The U.S. Census Bureau also collects marriage and divorce statistics, though this information is survey rather than records-based.
If you need information about your own marriage, or want to find out if a marriage is still in effect, the best thing to do is request a copy of your marriage and/or divorce records from your state.