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A Genealogist In The Archives

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Loose Marriage Records....What Are They?

Marriage records is one of those record groups that is a staple in genealogy research.  After census records, birth and death records, we as genealogists always look for marriage records.

Marriage License Certificate, located in the Loose Marriage Records Collection at Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Most marriage records are recorded in large volumes or books and are referenced by Book and Page #.  Did you know there is another set of marriage records called "Loose Marriage Records"? 

"Loose Marriage Records" are a record source that a lot of archives, historical/genealogical societies and libraries who hold Manuscript Collections have on their shelves. These records are called "loose" because they are documents separate from the bound volumes and are considered the "working papers" of the marriage licensing process.  These files can hold just about anything but most of them have a copy of the original marriage license among other records. 

Marriage License located in Loose Marriage Records Collection at Houston County, Tennessee Archives

In the Houston County, Tennessee Archives we have these types of records dating from 1871-2010.  Our files have such things as parental permission to marry letters, blood test results, letters from clergy stating the couple went through pre-marriage counseling, etc.

Loose Marriage Records can hold interesting and unique records not found in the bound volumes.  When a genealogists visit a repository they should ask the archivist or clerk if they have "Loose Marriage Records".  Hopefully the repository will have an index that can be quickly checked to find the surname the researcher is looking for in the loose marriage records.

Parental consent form located in Loose Marriage Records at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

This group of records is just another example of hidden treasures in our archives.  Some of these records have been microfilmed but very few are online. 

The next time you are at a repository researching marriage records, don't forget to ask if they have "Loose Marriage Records", you might surprised by what you find.

Always Remember:  "It's Not All Online, Visit An Archives Today!"


  1. Melissa,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!