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Lackawanna County Marriage Licenses Index

Beginning on Oct. 1, 1885, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania required each county to issue licenses for any couple desiring to marry. The couple did not have to take out the license in the county of their residence. Although the basic information required on the application was the same, each county kept their information in a different manner. In addition to creating a copy of the application, Lackawanna created a master index book for Marriage Licenses.

A complete marriage license docket (file) consists of 4 parts: application, consent form (if required), a form for the couple to keep (the return) and the duplicate return, which the person performing the ceremony was to return to the courthouse. The information from the application, the consent forms and the duplicate return, were then transferred to an affidavit in a bound volume. It is this affidavit which has been microfilmed. The result is that many clerks could work on any given license, and the variety of handwriting styles complicates this project; a difficulty which we hope has been overcome. For the first sixty some volumes of affidavits there is an index as well in front of each volume. These volumes of affidavits are sometimes referred to as marriage dockets even though they are only a transcribed copy of the documents in the original file. It is interesting to point out that only one person needed to appear to have a license issued, and they did not have to go to the courthouse. An application could be taken at the mayor's office, or in the office of a Justice of the Peace, or alderman.

To be legally married, the license had to be used within 60 days, the duplicate returned within 30 days after the ceremony, and the ceremony performed within the county that issued the license (this requirement was quickly waived and the others generally snubbed). There are quite a few licenses that came back after the marriage was ended by the death of one of the partners forty or fifty some years after being issued. Some marriages never had their duplicates returned. The county had so much difficulty in getting the duplicates returned that they even threatened legal action against some priests and clergymen, but eventually everyone came around, and the process began to work as intended.

Every time a license was issued, an entry was to be made in the index book, and thus a log was created for when the duplicate returns came back to the courthouse. Not all applicants names made it into the index. The typical entry through 1904 would be "215 (year left blank) 1  223  Gress, Charles 14 Jan 1886" means that the license no 215 was issued to Charles Gress, recorded in (Marriage License, or docket) Vol. 1, page 223, and the return filed on Jan. 14, 1886. The marriage date may have been Jan. 8, and the application made on Jan. 7, but you don't know that from the index.  Some counties only give the license number but include the name of the spouse in the index, Lackawanna did not. Starting in 1905, the county started the practice of beginning anew each year, so the year of license becomes important in finding the correct one.

There are both index volumes and volumes for the marriage licenses (dockets) themselves. Index volume 1 contains names from 120 volumes of marriage licenses. It comprises the scope of this project, about 109,000 individuals. The goal was to add value to the microfilmed index by including the name of the spouse and parents. The first 21 volumes were transcribed from the affidavits contained in the docket volumes. The remainder have come from the index microfilms which contain 1,978 pages of information. In the initial submission of those volumes (22 to 120) made from the index films, the parents names have generally NOT been included because of time constraints. The few that are listed have come from prior research. It takes about an hour to fully transcribe to paper about 30 affidavits and we were looking at an additional 1500 hours to complete just the transcriptions, no typing and no verification. A volume contained 300 pages of license information through vol. 36, after which they usually contain 500 pages; the exceptions being vol. 106 through 111 which are 600 page books and an oddball volume marked as vol. 114 with only a few dozen. By the time all 120 volumes are on-line (without the parental names), it is estimated that this project will have taken 3,000 man-hours to collect, assemble and audit.

The first index set of six books, 3 each for the men and women, marked as Index Vol. 1, was used from Oct. 1, 1885 to Dec. 31, 1914, and provided the index for the first 120 volumes of dockets. The second set of 8 books, Index Vol. 2, goes from Jan. 1, 1915 to Dec. 31, 1936 and covers vol. 121 to 249 of licenses; Index Vol. 3 continues to Dec. 31, 1957 including vol. 250 to 368, and Index Vol. 4 covers to 1995 when the county began keeping the information on their computers. Index Vol.2 and Index Volume 3 are available through the collection of the LDS church at their Family History Centers. Copies of the applications indexed here may also be obtained from the Register of Wills office at the Lackawanna County Courthouse, the PA State Archive in Harrisburg (in person only) and local genealogical societies. The courthouse now has a computer index similar to the ones in the master index books which contain only the name of one of the marriage partners and the marriage date, rather than the return date.


In March 2012 Lackawanna County made scanned copies of their records available online, including Marriage Index 1885-1995.
See: Lackawanna County Public Access

Contributed by Richard M. Reese and Heather Tomlinson, 2001, revised and copyright April 2008

This chart shows the dates for all the marriage license volumes associated with the volume one index. Volume numbers with links have the index information on this site.

If you are searching for a name, but don't know the date, try the Marriage License Search form first.

Volume 1: Oct 1885 - Feb 1886

Volume 2: Feb 1886 - Jun 1886

Volume 3: Jun 1886 - Oct 1886

Volume 4: Oct 1886 - Feb 1887

Volume 5: Feb 1887 - Jun 1887

Volume 6: Jun 1887 - Oct 1887

Volume 7: Oct 1887 - Dec 1887

Volume 8: Dec 1887 - Mar 1888

Volume 9: Mar 1888 - Jun 1888

Volume 10: Jun 1888 - Sep 1888

Volume 11: Sep 1888 - Dec 1888

Volume 12: Dec 1888 - Mar 1889

Volume 13: Mar 1889 - Jun 1889

Volume 14: Jun 1889 - Sep 1889

Volume 15: Sep 1889 - Dec 1889

Volume 16: Dec 1889 - Apr 1890

Volume 17: Apr 1890 - Jul 1890

Volume 18: Jul 1890 - Oct 1890

Volume 19: Oct 1890 - Jan 1891

Volume 20: Jan 1891 - Apr 1891

Volume 21: Apr 1891 - Jul 1891

Volume 22: Jul 1891 - Sep 1891

Volume 23: Sep 1891 - Dec 1891

Volume 24: Dec 1891 - Mar 1892

Volume 25: Mar 1892 - Jun 1892

Volume 26: Jun 1892 - Aug 1892

Volume 27: Aug 1892 - Oct 1892

Volume 28: Oct 1892 - Jan 1893

Volume 29: Jan 1893 - Apr 1893

Volume 30: Apr 1893 - Jul 1893

Volume 31: Jul 1893 - Sep 1893

Volume 32: Sep 1893 - Dec 1893

Volume 33: Dec 1893 - Mar 1894

Volume 34: Mar 1894 - May 1894

Volume 35: May 1894 - Jul 1894

Volume 36: Jul 1894 - Nov 1894

Volume 37: Nov 1894 - Mar 1895

Volume 38: Mar 1895 - Aug 1895

Volume 39: Aug 1895 - Dec 1895

Volume 40: Dec 1895 - Apr 1896

Volume 41: Apr 1896 - Aug 1896

Volume 42: Aug 1896 - Nov 1896

Volume 43: Nov 1896 - Apr 1897

Volume 44: Apr 1897 - Aug 1897

Volume 45: Aug 1897 - Nov 1897

Volume 46: Nov 1897 - Mar 1898

Volume 47: Mar 1898 - Aug 1898

Volume 48: Aug 1898 - Nov 1898

Volume 49: Nov 1898 - Apr 1899

Volume 50: Apr 1899 - Jul 1899

Volume 51: Jul 1899 - Nov 1899

Volume 52: Nov 1899 - Feb 1900

Volume 53: Feb 1900 - Jun 1900

Volume 54: Jun 1900 - Oct 1900

Volume 55: Oct 1900 - Feb 1901

Volume 56: Feb 1901 - Jul 1901

Volume 57: Jul 1901 - Sep 1901

Volume 58: Sep 1901 - Dec 1901

Volume 59: Dec 1901 - Apr 1902

Volume 60: Apr 1902 - Aug 1902

Volume 61: Aug 1902 - Dec 1902

Volume 62: Dec 1902 - Apr 1903

Volume 63: Apr 1903 - Jun 1903

Volume 64: Jun 1903 - Sep 1903

Volume 65: Sep 1903 - Dec 1903

Volume 66: Dec 1903 - Feb 1904

Volume 67: Feb 1904 - Jul 1904

Volume 68: Jul 1904 - Aug 1904

Volume 69: Aug 1904 - Oct 1904

Volume 70: Oct 1904 - Jan 1905

Volume 71: Jan 1905 - May 1905

Volume 72: May 1905 - Jul 1905

Volume 73: Jul 1905 - Sep 1905

Volume 74: Sep 1905 - Dec 1905

Volume 75: Dec 1905 - Apr 1906

Volume 76: Apr 1906 - Jul 1906

Volume 77: Jul 1906 - Oct 1906

Volume 78: Oct 1906 - Dec 1906

Volume 79: Dec 1906 - Mar 1907

Volume 80: Mar 1907 - Jun 1907

Volume 81: Jun 1907 - Aug 1907

Volume 82: Aug 1907 - Oct 1907

Volume 83: Oct 1907 - Jan 1908

Volume 84: Jan 1908 - Apr 1908

Volume 85: Apr 1908 - Jul 1908

Volume 86: Jul 1908 - Sep 1908

Volume 87: Sep 1908 - Nov 1908

Volume 88: Nov 1908 - Jan 1909

Volume 89: Jan 1909 - Apr 1909

Volume 90: Apr 1909 - Jun 1909

Volume 91: Jun 1909 - Sep 1909

Volume 92: Sep 1909 - Oct 1909

Volume 93: Oct 1909 - Jan 1910

Volume 94: Jan 1910 - Apr 1910

Volume 95: Apr 1910 - Jun 1910

Volume 96: Jun 1910 - Aug 1910

Volume 97: Aug 1910 - Oct 1910

Volume 98: Oct 1910 - Jan 1911

Volume 99: Jan 1911 - Mar 1911

Volume 100: Mar 1911 - Jun 1911

Volume 101: Jun 1911 - Jul 1911

Volume 102: Jul 1911 - Sep 1911

Volume 103: Sep 1911 - Dec 1911

Volume 104: Dec 1911 - Jan 1912

Volume 105: Jan 1912 - Apr 1912

Volume 106: Apr 1912 - Jul 1912

Volume 107: Jul 1912 - Sep 1912

Volume 108: Sep 1912 - Dec 1912

Volume 109: Dec 1912 - Feb 1913

Volume 110: Feb 1913 - May 1913

Volume 111: May 1913 - Jul 1913

Volume 112: Jul 1913 - Sep 1913

Volume 113: Sep 1913 - Nov 1913

Volume 114: Nov 1913 - Jan 1914

Volume 115: Jan 1914 - Apr 1914

Volume 116: Apr 1914 - Jun 1914

 

 

 

 

 

Permission is given to use this material on the PAGenWeb / USGenWeb project for the purpose of doing individual family research only. Absolutely no printing of this index, or other reuse of this material will be permitted without written consent of the author(s) of that portion of material.


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