Metrical Books - Marriage Records
Marriage records may appear in either a table/columns format or paragraph form. Both formats will be addressed on this page, as well as the vocabulary commonly used in Russian language marriage records.
Records written in the table/columns format sometimes have their headings written in Church Slavonic, using many of the archaic letters shown on the Alphabet Overview page of this tutorial. To simplify your reading of the documents you find, the following is a transcription and translation of the headings found in an average Christian marriage record (Orthodox, Catholic, etc.):
|Метрической книги на (year in numerals)||год: часть вторая, о бракосочетавшихся|
|Счетъ браков||Месяцъ и день||Звание, имя, отчество, фамилия и вероисповедание жениха, и которым браком||Лета жениха||Звание, имя, отчество, фамилия и вероисповедание невесты, и которым браком||Лета невесты||Кто совершал таинство||Кто выли поручители
||Подпись свидетелей записи по желанию|
|Metrical books for (year in numerals)||year: second part, about those married|
|Marriage count||Month and day||Rank, name, patronymic, surname and religion of the groom, and which marriage (1st, 2nd, etc.)||Age of the groom||Rank, name, patronymic, surname and religion of the bride, and which marriage (1st, 2nd, etc.)||Age of the bride||Who performed the marriage||Who were the guarantors/witnesses||Signatures of the witnesses of the record (optional)|
Use the scroll bar to see the rest of the headings for this document type.
- The month is usually written once above a date within that month for each page, with the new month being written lower on the page if there is a change partway through. If you do not immediately see a month listed, check the preceding entries accordingly.
The general concepts above also apply to Jewish records in the table/columns format, but the headings differ significantly. This is because, rather than using both pages to record data in Russian, the right-hand page records the same information as the left-hand page again, but in Hebrew.
These are the column headings for the Russian language portion of Jewish marriage records in the table format:
|Часть II. О бракосочетавшихся.|
|No.||Лета||Кто совершал обручевия и бракосочетания (хипу.)||Число и месяц||Главные акты или записи и обязательства между вступающими в брак и свидетели оных||Кто именно с кем вступает в брак также имена состояние родителей|
|Part II. About those married.|
|No.||Age||Who performed the betrothal ceremony and marriage ordinance (Сhuppah)||Date and month||Principal acts or records and obligations between those entering into marriage and those who have witnessed them [the records](Signatures)||Who married whom and the names and social statuses of their parents|
Use the scroll bar to see the rest of the headings for this document type.
- Notice that the columns denoting the count for each gender are reversed from the order in which they are shown on Christian records, with females being recorded on the left and males on the right here.
- The "Christian" date refers to either the Julian or Gregorian calendar, depending on which was in use at the time. See the Numbers, Dates, and Calendars page of this tutorial to learn more about the difference between these calendars and the Hebrew calendar.
The following is the general flow of a paragraph-style, Christian marriage record, with spaces left for the unique information provided in each individual document:
Состоялось в городе/селе/деревне/посаде (place where the event was reported) (date of reporting) (time of reporting). Объявляем что в присутствии свидетелей (witness or witnesses with their ages, occupations, and places of residence) заключен сего числа религиозный брачный союз между (groom's name) (groom's marital status) (groom's age) (groom's social status) (groom's father's name) (groom's mother's maiden name) (groom's birthplace) (groom's place of residence) и (bride's name) (bride's marital status) (bride's age) (bride's social status) (bride's father's name) (bride's mother's maiden name) (bride's place of residence). Позволение (statement about how permission to marry was given). Браку сему (statement about the three оглашения, or banns, posted before the marriage) в (name of the church where the banns were posted) (dates when the banns were posted). Религиозный обряд бракосочетания (statement about who performed the marriage). Акт сей (statement that the act was read by and signed by the couple and witnesses or that it was read to them due to illiteracy).
Here is an English translation of the paragraph above:
It happened in the city/town/village/settlement (place where the event was reported) (date of reporting) (time of reporting). It was announced that in the presence of the witnesses (witness or witnesses with their ages, occupations, and places of residence) a religious marriage ceremony took place on this date between (groom's name) (groom's marital status) (groom's age) (groom's social status) (groom's father's name) (groom's mother's maiden name) (groom's birthplace) (groom's place of residence) and (bride's name) (bride's marital status) (bride's age) (bride's social status) (bride's father's name) (bride's mother's maiden name) (bride's place of residence). Permission (statement about how permission to marry was given). This marriage (statement about the three banns posted before the marriage) in (name of the church where the banns were posted) (dates when the banns were posted). The religious marriage ordinance (statement about who performed the marriage). This act (statement that the act was read by and signed by the couple and witnesses or that it was read to them due to illiteracy).
Some notes about paragraph format documents:
- It is possible that all of the elements above may not be present in the documents you encounter. In addition to this, some of the phrases may be written in a different order than shown here, especially those describing the bride and groom. Use key words and phrases to know which part of the document you are reading, even if a section was left out or is in a different position than you are accustomed to.
- Because these records state that a marriage took place between two people, instrumental case endings are used when stating the names of the bride and groom. Refer to the Language and Grammar page of this tutorial for more information.
- Paragraph-style records were a Polish custom and are common in the parts of the former Russian Empire that were part of Poland first. Because of this, you may find names written in both Russian and Polish in the paragraph format documents you encounter, usually separated by a slash.
- Two different versions of a date may be recorded, one in the Julian calendar and the other in the Gregorian calendar (the most commonly used calendar today). The two dates are usually separated by a slash. For more about the format and grammar behind dates, see the Numbers, Dates, and Calendars page of this tutorial.
- Spelling can vary based on the time the record was written. You may find that i's are used in historical documents where you might expect to see и's in modern Russian. The same is often true of ѣ's and е's (see the Alphabet Overview page of this tutorial to learn more about these letters and their similarities). In addition to this, the modern genitive ending -ого was often written as -аго in older documents.
- Just like their tabular counterparts, paragraph-style documents use some different vocabulary when discussing Jewish marriages. Instead of mentioning banns in a church, a Jewish record will talk about the announcements being made in a synagogue (синагог). The note about who performed the marriage will refer to a rabbi (раввин) instead of a priest (священник or ксендз).
Common Vocabulary in Marriage Records
Use the list below to review common vocabulary you might encounter in a marriage record. While this is not an all-inclusive list, knowing these terms will help you to follow the general format of the birth records you read. For more vocabulary options, see the FamilySearch Wiki Russian Genealogical Word List.
|Russian Term||English Equivalent|
|акт сей||this act|
|браку сему||this marriage|
|в городе||in the city|
|в деревне||in the village (without a church)|
|в присутствии||in the presence of|
|в селе||in the town (with a church)|
|вдова, вдовец||widow, widower|
|и там же проживающей||and living there|
|мещанин, мещанка||petty bourgeois, middle class|
|нами и ими подписан||signed by myself and them|
|не подписан||was not signed|
|обряда||rite, ordinance, ceremony, sacrament|
|объявляя что||declaring that|
|от роду||from birth|
|позволение на вступление в законный брак||permission to marry|
|предъбрачного договора||prenuptial agreement|
|предъшествовали три оглашения||was preceded by three banns/announcements|
|при родителях||with the parents|
|прихода||of the parish|
|сего года||of the same year|
|состоялось||it happened, it took place|
|текущего года||current year|