Marriage records (also called certificates or licenses) are created and maintained by county probate courts. They are recorded from the date of the county’s creation and typically provide the names of the bride and groom, the date, and place of the marriage and the name of the officiating authority. Occasionally marriage records also include place of residence and birth, age, and/or names of parents. Marriage records prior to 1899 (OL93 p309 sec.6390) generally do not give the names of the couple's parents.
How you search for records depends on the county of the marriage and the time period of that marriage. There is no statewide index to marriages prior to 1950, so you must know where the marriage occurred in order to find the record. If you don’t know where the marriage occurred, check the U.S. Federal Census to see where the couple was living just before or after the marriage. They may have been married in that county. Ohio Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics maintains an index of marriages that occurred in Ohio from January 1, 1950 to the present.
The Archives & Library has marriage records from some Ohio counties, but not all. Please note that the time period that our marriage record collections cover vary depending on the county. To determine if we have a certain county’s probate court records, do a keyword search in the Online Collections Catalog. For example, search: Knox County Probate Marriage.
For marriage records not in our collection, contact the local Probate Court or county archives to find out where the records are housed. Also, check the Online Collections Catalog for indexes done by county genealogical and historical societies. Having the index citation will help you when contacting the county's probate court to request the record.
Many courthouse records in Ohio were filmed by the Church of Latter Day Saints and can be seen on their website, www.familysearch.org. The website is free, but you will have to sign up for an account to view the original documents. The database is not entirely name indexed, so your ancestors may not appear after a search. You can browse the collection on Family Search by county using the link at the bottom of the page, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013.
The following resources are available for research in the Archives & Library:
Ohio Marriages Recorded in County Courts through 1820: an Index by the Ohio Genealogical Society [R 929.3771 Oh33 1996]
Ohio Marriages Recorded in County Courts 1 Jan 1821-31 Dec 1830: an Index (2 vols.) by the Ohio Genealogical Society.
[R 929.3771 Oh33 2003]
It is important to be aware of the date of the county’s creation. For instance, Mahoning County was formed from Trumbull and Columbiana Counties in 1846. If you are looking for a marriage record from 1834 for a couple who lived in what is now Mahoning County, you may need to check both the Columbiana and Trumbull County Probate Court marriage records.
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If you have an exact place and year of marriage, you can submit an Indexed Public Records Copy Request form. The exact citation to the event should have the following:
Full name of the person(s) documented by the record
Type of record being requested (for example: marriage)
Year or date that the marriage occurred
County or city in Ohio where the marriage occurred
Information about cost and the form for submitting a copy request is available on the Indexed Vital Records Copy Request form linked on the left side of this page.
If you know that a person was married in Ohio, but you do not have the exact year of marriage, you can request research for a record of marriage during a ten year time frame. It is necessary to know the county or city in Ohio where the person was married. The citation to the event must include the following:
Full name of the person(s) documented by the record
Type of record being researched (for example: marriage)
Approximate year of the marriage (must be within a 10 year time span)
County or city in Ohio where the marriage happened
Information about cost and the form for submitting a research request is available on the Vital Records Research Request form linked on the left side of this page.
If you can’t find a person’s name in the index, that doesn’t mean that his/her record will not be in the actual record book. If you have a general idea of the year in which the person was married, you may consider reviewing all of the records from that year or group of years.
The marriage should have been reported to the court by the groom prior to the marriage and the return submitted by the Justice of the Peace or the minister after the marriage was performed. If you cannot find the record you want, the couple may have been married in a different county or at a different time, the officiant may have neglected to submit the marriage return to the court, the records may have been affected by a destructive event in the probate court's history (fire, flood, etc.), or the couple may not have been legally married.
Consider reviewing probate court marriage affidavits or consent records, which certify that the bride and groom are of legal age and are not closely related. If the bride or groom was a minor at the time of marriage, the consent records indicate that a parent or guardian has granted permission for the marriage. Our holdings vary by county and time period.