NYC Marriage Index - Manhattan 1919
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This is the 1919 index for the borough of Manhattan (New York county) in New York City for marriage affidavits, applications, and licenses. It was digitized from microfilm #12 from a set of 48 microfilms that covered records for 1908-1929.
This data set was originally collected by the New York City Clerk's Office, and later transferred to the New York City Municipal Archives. For several decades, this data was only available in microfilm format and was only available to researchers who were physically onsite at the Municipal Archives building in lower Manhattan.
In January 2015, the not-for-profit activist group Reclaim The Records filed a request under the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to obtain a copy of the records. The NYC Municipal Archives refused to turn over the files, leading to a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York in September 2015. The suit was quickly settled in favor of Reclaim The Records, and a brand new copy of the 48 microfilms in this set was sent to them in October 2015. In April 2016, Reclaim The Records began uploading the newly digitized versions of the microfilms to the Internet Archive, for public use. This is the first time they have ever been available to the general public outside of New York City.
All about New York City marriage records
In the early 20th century there were two different sets of marriage records kept in New York City, and they each had their own index.
The better-known NYC marriage records are the two-page Health Department marriage certificates, which run from the late 19th century through 1937. You can view the images of those certificates on microfilm at the NYC Municipal Archives building in lower Manhattan, or you can order copies of specific certificates from the Archives through a form on their website. Images of those certificates are also freely available to the public on FamilySearch microfilms, and a text transcription of the information in those certificates is also freely searchable on the FamilySearch website, although the actual images are not online.
There are two complementary indices to those Health Department certificates, known as the Brides Index and the Grooms Index. These indices were created on index cards in the late 1930's through the Works Project Administration (WPA). Those index cards of the Brides Index and the Grooms Index were then microfilmed, and you can view the films onsite at the Municipal Archives building in New York, or you can view them on FamilySearch microfilms. In recent years, these indices have been turned into free online searchable databases, transcribed through the hard work of the volunteers in the non-profit Italian Genealogical Group (IGG).
But the information presented here is the index to the other set of marriage records, the ones that are not nearly as well known.
These marriage records were kept by the New York City Clerk's Office, not the Health Department. And they are not the usual two-page certificates. Instead, they are a three-page document set, consisting of (1) the application of the couple wishing to get married, (2) the affidavit from the couple stating that they are legally allowed to get married, and (3) the marriage license granted to the couple so that they could go get married at a date in the near future. Therefore, the dates of the documents listed in this index were sometimes several days or weeks before the marriage, not always the same date that the wedding took place.
The three-page City Clerk's Office document set usually has more information contained in it than the two-page Health Department marriage certificate. For a description of the differences in the information, read this, or read Leslie Corn's article, "City Clerk's Marriage Licenses, New York City, 1908–1937: One of 20th Century Genealogy's Best Primary Sources" from the NYG&B Newsletter (now New York Researcher), Spring 1999.
I found a name, now what?
This record set is only the index to the three-page City Clerk's Office documents. If you find a name of a relative or other person of interest in this index, you can then place an order with the New York City Municipal Archives for a copy of the full three-page City Clerk's Office affidavit, application, and license. Please pay attention to the exact wording; this is not the same thing as a marriage certificate. Make sure you understand what you are ordering.
Unfortunately, the NYC Municipal Archives does not yet have an online form for ordering this three-page City Clerk's Office document set consisting of the application, affidavit, and license. You will have to write them a letter by postal mail to order a copy, and enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check made out to the New York City Municipal Archives for $15 (US).
In your letter, make sure to list the full name of the bride or groom, the full name of the person's spouse if you know it, the borough, the volume number (if listed in the index), the page number (if listed in the index), the document number, and the date of the document (month, day, and year). Remember that the date of these documents might be a few days or even weeks before the wedding took place. If you already know for sure the exact date of the wedding, and/or where it took place (the borough name), you should include that information in your letter, too.
Mail your letter to:
New York City Municipal Archives
31 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Don't forget to enclose your check and your self-addressed stamped envelope.
Finally, we request that you please add the following line, or something like it, to your letter: "I was made aware of this information through the not-for-profit group Reclaim The Records, and their work to put genealogical data online for free public use."
This data is in the public domain. There are no usage restrictions or copyrights attached to it. Feel free to use it however you'd like.
Thank you to the New York State Committee on Open Government (COOG) for providing research materials and advice for the initial FOIL request, for helping us write our FOIL appeal, and for writing an Advisory Opinion on our behalf. Thank you to the law firm Rankin and Taylor in New York for taking on our case and pursuing this matter in court. Thank you to the non-profit organization FamilySearch for generously digitizing these 48 microfilms for free on their professional-grade equipment. Thank you to the Internet Archive for providing web hosting and distribution of this data at no cost.
If you have found this information to be useful in your genealogical research, please consider making a donation to the Internet Archive. They are a 501(c)3 non-profit, so your donation would be tax-deductible in the United States.
For more information
For more information on the group Reclaim The Records, please visit our website at https://www.ReclaimTheRecords.org/ and sign up for our free e-mail newsletter. You can also Like Us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @ReclaimTheRecs.
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Subject: AWESOME JOB!
I live in Nashville, TN and make 2 trips a year to NY for genealogy research of my Irish & German family history. I often have a hard time finding anything about my 2x great-grandparents at the MUNI. The staff at the archives are so disinterested in helping you. They expect YOU, the researcher, to be the EXPERT of the records they house, but I'm am NOT a family historian or professional genealogist - I'm simply a girl seeking information about my heritage across the pond! I spent hours looking through microfilms of marriages records in NYC for years 1845-1880 with no success.
Thanks to RECLAIM THE RECORDS for fighting to get access to this index for this record set. I browsed through the bride index and was able to find my great-grandmother's marriage record number and will be writing a letter to MUNI to request a copy of the original application for license to marry in the year 1919. I'm hoping this record set will provide more information about where her parents originated from in Europe, and break through this brick wall that has frustrated me for 3 years!
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