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Making sense of old handwriting

German Marriage

Marriage Record Context

Marriage records are arguably the most important vital records to find and utilize; not only do they link two families, but they may provide information to verify birth records, parents or previous marriages. Most church records before the 19th century were written in a paragraph of sentence format, however it is not unusual to find these records up until the early 1900's. These types of records may have more information than a table-format record, but they also tend to be harder to read. To better understand the language found on these records, the BYU German Script Tutorial also provides a list of common vocabulary found on marriage records.

Marriage Record Content

Marriage records will have:

  • A marriage date or banns declaration date
  • The name of the groom
  • The name of the bride (or that of her deceased husband, in such a case that one exists)

Additionally, it is common to find:

  • The occupation of the groom
  • The social status of the groom
  • The residence of the Groom
  • The birth date of the Groom
  • The name of the groom's father*
  • The name of the groom's mother
  • The birth date of the bride
  • The birth place of the bride
  • The name of the bride's father (or that of a late husband)
  • The occupation of the bride's father (or that of a late husband)
  • The social status of the bride's father (or that of a late husband)

*If the groom's father's name is missing, it could be that he was previously married, however men do not always get a status of widow (check the notation of the scribe in surrounding entries, if other men were listed as widows and thus the groom is illegitimate or no such notation is used). This same reasoning can be applied if the bride is missing a father. Information like parents' names could be omitted due to it being a duplicate record of a different parish, located via a listed origin on the entry: "von" or "aus" which both mean "from."

Marriage Record Examples

Click on any image to go to its transcription and translation page.

Example of a typical Paragraph Format: 

Bobröhrsdorf marriage

This example includes birthdates for both individuals in the remarks.

Example of a Sentence Format:

German/Marriage Sentence format

Example of a typical Tabular Format:


After the 1800's most church records were usually kept in a tabular or printed format. Tabular forms are easier to read, but usually have less information.