Alabama Marriage Records and Genealogy Resources
There are many reasons you may need to find Alabama marriage records, but perhaps one of the most popular is for genealogy research. A growing hobby, this type of research can help you truly document your family's past and give your children something to look to as they grow.
If you're just getting started with your family history research, you may not realize how important vital records like these can be. Vital records often collectively lump marriage, divorce, birth, and death records together, and most family history researchers find these to be some of the most important documents within the process of finding out who you're actually related to. They provide essential details about the lives of your ancestors and those milestones that were probably important to them.
While the actual content of these records tends to vary, you can usually find the event's date and place as well as the parent's names. In some cases, you can find exactly where they lived and their occupation. These are often reliable primary sources because they are created very near the time the event occurred, making them as accurate as possible.
In order to find the Alabama marriage records you need, the first thing you have to do is figure out when the marriage in question actually occurred. Despite its lengthy history, the state didn't actually start keeping track of marriages until 1936, so searching for records prior to that date can be difficult. If you know the county in which the person was married, you can typically visit with local officials there to see how far back those records go. In some cases, you may find exactly what you're looking for. In others, you may come up empty-handed.
If, however, you're searching for a relatively recent record, the process is a bit easier. The rules involved in Alabama are pretty simple. You pay a small fee, and you can get the certificate. The fee is non-refundable, but you'll get a certified copy at the end of the process. To order the certificate, you can either request a search by mail or visit any county health department office to get a copy while you wait. You can find a map of the various offices throughout the state on the Alabama Department of Public Health website.
One way to simplify the process is to have a third-party service to do an Alabama marriage records lookup for you. A great way to save yourself some time during the actual research process, these lookup requests do typically require a small fee, but it's usually worth it given how much hassle you'll avoid, especially if you're looking for an older certificate. Alabama marriage records lookup services are plentiful, but make certain you choose a reputable one. You want a company that can delivery your information in a timely manner as well as one with a long history of happy customers. You can also find free information about Alabama marriage records at this free public records resource.
Alabama marriage records aren't difficult to find, but they can be an important part of the research process. Make certain you add them to your historical documentation.
The earliest recorded marriages in the area now known as Alabama were at the French settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile. In 1704 a small group of young women, the "Cassette Girls", traveled from France to become wives of the first French colonists. Some 1704 marriages at Fort Louis de la Mobile. Another group of young brides arrived in 1728.
Marriage licenses have been required since 1799 and were issued by the Clerk of Orphan's Court in the county of the bride. After 1850 this job went to the County Probate Court which still issues and records marriage licenses. The Alabama Center for Health Statistics began recording marriage certificates in 1936.
Early vital records for Alabama (birth, death, marriage and divorce records) can be found in old letters, Bibles, newspapers, and court records such as guardianship and apprenticeship records and wills. Before 1881 birth and death records were not required to be recorded, so may be hard to find. The first Alabama newspapers were established in 1811 (Centinel), 1812 (Gazette), and 1816 (Alabama Republican) and may have carried announcements of engagements, births, deaths, and local marriages.
For copies of an Alabama marriage record you can write to the Alabama Office of Vital Records.
Information found on Alabama Marriage Certificates:
Before 1888 the information on a Marriage Certificate included:
- Name of Bride
- Name of Groom
- Bondsmen names
- License bond
- Marriage Date
- County of issuance
In 1910 more information was added:
- Names of Parents
- Physical description
- Ages and Occupations of Bride and Groom
- Number of previous marriages if any
- Blood relationship if any of Bride and Groom
Alabama Statewide Genealogy Resources:
Alabama Statewide Marriage Records:
$ indicates a subscription database,
(all offer a free trial for free access).
How to Obtain an Alabama Marriage Certificate:
There are no restrictions on Alabama Marriage Records. Unlike Alabama birth and death records, Alabama marriage records are open to the public and are not confidential. Anyone may submit the proper form and fee and obtain an Alabama marriage record.
For Alabama marriage certificates prior to 1936 contact the probate clerk in the county where the certificate was filed and recorded. These addresses and telephone numbers are included in the county information along with any links to free Alabama marriage records we have found online.
For marriage certificates filed after 1936, contact the Alabama Center for Health Statistics:
Alabama Vital Records
P. O. Box 5625
Montgomery, Al 36103-5625
Alabama Divorce Records:
Early Divorce Records (until 1865) may be found in legislative records and are published in Senate & House Journals. From 1865, divorce records can be found in the County Chancery Court and after 1918 in the Circuit Court where the divorce was filed.