PSRoots-L ArchivesArchiver > PSRoots > 1999-03 > 0921258152
From: Sarah Little <>
Subject: Re: Marriage Application/valuable info
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 09:02:32 -0800 (PST)
Regarding your additional questions--Traditionally and typically, at the
time the marriage has actually occurred, several documents are generated
by a minister, for example. He enters the marriage into the church
marriage book; he/she gives the groom and the bride a certificate
(sometimes fancy and decorated) of their marriage which is often called a
marriage certificate. He then sends back a marriage return to the county
where the license was issued or to the county where the marriage actually
took place (this differs from state to state and from time to time). In
Washington state, up until the mid 1940's, the return was sent back to the
county where the license was issued. Since then, they are sent to the
county in which the marriage took place. This can make it difficult for a
researcher whose ancestor was married, for example, in Auburn, WA (King
Co) and applied for the license in Tacoma (Pierce Co) in the 1920's or
1930's. There would be no record in King County, even though the marriage
physically took place there.
This marriage "return" is sometimes also called a marriage certificate,
and has differing information from state to state. In your case in the
1920's in King County, WA, it consisted of name and place of residence
(i.e. John Jones of King County, WA) --no street addresses, signatures of
the two witnesses, signatures of the bride and groom, name and signature
of the officiating minister, date the marriage took place and address
where it occurred. Many who were married by a justice of the peace will
show that they were married at the "King County Courthouse."
Again, the document you received from King County, whether it is called a
certificate or a return, for the 1920's, you have the complete file.
Nothing else exists. The good news is that you have something because
many courthouse records have been burned or water damaged etc. and those
researchers seeking them are completely out of luck.