If you are having trouble finding marriage data about your ancestors, consider using census records to help narrow your search. You may save valuable time!
Marriage Information in the 1850-1930 Censuses
- 1850, 1860, 1880, 1890 – A column is checked if married within the year.
- “Within the year” means during the year before the official census day.
- 1870 – If married within the year, the month of marriage is given.
- 1880-1930 – Marital status is given (single, married, widowed or divorced.)
- A status change over the years helps narrow down the date of an event.
- 1900, 1910 – Lists the number of years married to the present spouse.
- 1910 – Reports for married persons, whether the marriage is the first (M1) or more than first (M2 – used for any number over 1 marriage).
- 1930 – States the individual’s age at their first marriage.
- Narrows the date of the present marriage.
- Provides evidence of previous marriage(s).
Other Clues to Marriage
- 1890 – 1910 – Women are asked how many children they have given birth to and the number of children still living.
- Could be a clue to previous marriages.
- 1790 – 1840 – The head of household is named with others in age and/or gender categories.
- Helps build a family profile.
- Track categorized individuals to help determine if they may have left the family unit through marriage or death.
- Examining adult female age categories can help determine if a man remarried.
Find out what census resources are available in the Grosvenor Room for New York State by reading our Census Guide.
Dollarhide, William. The Census Book: A Genealogist’s Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes. Bountiful, Utah: HeritageQuest, 1999. GRO REF HA 214 .D63 1999
Hinckley, Kathleen W. Your Guide to the Federal Census. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2002. GRO REF HA 37 .U6 H556 2002
Minnesota Population Center. Enumerator Instructions. In Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Census Microdata for Social and Economic Research. http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/tEnumInstr.shtml .
The National Archives. Clues in Census Records, 1850-1930 and Clues in Census Records, 1790-1840. In Census Records. http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/census/ .
U.S. Department of Commerce. Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000. United States: U.S. Department of Commerce, 2002. http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/ma.html.