California Marriage Records

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. When did California start recording marriages?
A.
California marriage certificates are one of the most valuable sources of California genealogical information.  Unlike many other states throughout the country, California has been keeping track of marriages within the state since 1850, and the California Department of Public Health Office of Vital Records maintains these records to this day.

Q. Are there restrictions on getting copies of California marriage records?
A.
Yes, there are restrictions on ordering California Marriage Records. Special requirements have to be met to receive a copy of a marriage certificate. Anyone wanting to replace a certificate must have a notarized sworn statement attesting to the fact that they are one of the parties named in the certificate. Public marriage records may be obtained from the county recorder; confidential marriage records are available only through the county clerk of the county where the license was issued.

Q. How do I verify a marriage took place in California?
A.
There are two types of certificate copies-certified and certified informational. The type needed for genealogy research is the informational copy. This is a certified copy and can be used for verifying family history information.

Because of the length of time it takes to get a marriage certificate from California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Vital Records it is better to contact the County Clerk of the county where the license was issued. (County Clerk links may be found on the county pages.)

You must submit as much of the following information as possible to receive a copy of a marriage record.

  • Groom's first and last name
  • Bride's first and maiden last name
  • Date of marriage

Q. What information is found on an California marriage record?
A.
The earliest marriage records have very little extra information beyond the basics:

  • Names of bride and groom
  • Date of marriage
  • Name of officiant
  • witness names

Later marriages have more information:

  • Grooms name, residence, age, color or race, and occupation
  • Brides maiden name, residence, age, color or race, and occupation
  • Date of marriage
  • Single, widowed or divorced status
  • Name of officiant
  • Witness names
  • Names and birthplace of mother and father
  • Mother and father's occupations

Q. Where can I find genealogy records from California?
A.
Many California genealogy resources found today include copies of old newspapers, biographies and histories, indexes and county books on microfilm that can be borrowed via interlibrary loans. Check with your local library to see if they can or will ask for a loan of microfilm. California State Library Genealogy Resources

Other California resources:

Unlike many other states throughout the country, California has been keeping track of marriages within the state since 1850, and the California Department of Public Health Office of Vital Records as well as the different California County Clerks maintains these records to this day.

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