Where are the Marriage Records for Kentucky?

Where are the marriage records for Kentucky?  Is there more than one category you can expect to discover  at the county level?  The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives issued a short description of the records, based upon the laws passed by the state legislature:

  1. The bond.  A performance bond was filed by the groom and a kinsman or guardian of the bride.  This bond assured the court that there was no lawful impediment  to the marriage.
  2. If either bride or groom were under age, a consent was required by the court from a parent or guardian.  The bond, consent, and license became loose papers filed by the clerk in the early years.  Later these documents were copied into a Marriage Record Book.   The consent usually included relationship of the signer to the bride or groom.
  3. The license was taken to the minister or judge who was to perform the marriage, as a permit that the couple paid their fees and had permission to marry.
  4. A marriage certificate was filled out by the officiator and given to the bride.
  5. Once the marriage was performed, the officiator was required  by law to register the marriage or file a  return of the event to the county where the marriage.  In rural communities, the clergyman or justice was permitted to send in his returns once or twice a year.  If he moved or died, the marriage may never be returned to the county.
  6. 1852-1861, marriages were recorded by the County Assessor  and sent to the State Auditor’s Office.  In 1862, the law was repealed because it put too much work on the Assessor’s Office.
  7. 1874-1878, marriages again recorded by the Assessor.  Repealed in 1878, marriages were recorded in a haphazard way until about 191o.
  8. Since 1958, marriages are recorded by the state Vital Statistics Office consistently.

No wonder it is so difficult to build a family tree in Kentucky!  Your family tree begins with the marriage of your ancestor (most of our ancestors were married).

About Arlene Eakle

I trace your family tree; or, teach you how.
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