Monday, February 17, 2014

California Marriages, 1850-1941 for Selected Counties Now on

I noticed that has added a database titled "California Marriages from Select Counties, 1850-1941" last week.  I wondered which counties were covered, and what the records look like.

Here is the database search page:

Over on the right-hand side of the page is the dropdown box to see which counties are provided.  At this time, the list is short - Alameda and Marin counties.  Two out of the 58 California counties.
I put "seaver" in the Last Name field and received 26 matches:

The indexed information provided in the list above are Name, Marriage Date, Marriage county, and Spouse's Name.

Down the list a bit (not shown on the screen above) was an entry for Lawrence C. Blanchard who married Vivienne D. Pettit in 1920.  Here is the indexed record summary for the marriage:

Why was this result in the list for "Seaver" matches?  Well, it turns out that Lawrence Blanchard's mother was Elizabeth Seaver (my great-grandaunt, daughter of Isaac and Lucretia (Smith) Seaver), and she was named in the record and indexed in this database.

I clicked on the "View original image" link and saw the record:

The marriage record indicates that they were married in Berkeley, Alameda, California on 12 November 1920.  It names Frederick Blanchard's parents as Frederick G. Blanchard and Elizabeth Seaver.  It names Vivienne D. Pettit's parents as Albert W. Pettit and Grace L. Hadley.

This is a very rich collection for genealogists.  This information can be obtained from the County or the State of California also, but for collateral lines like the one above, I have not ordered those records.  Now a portion of the California marriage records are online at

I hope that the other 56 counties are added over a period of time.  At present, there are 416,981 records in this collection from the two counties already digitized and indexed.

FamilySearch has a similar collection, titled "California, County Marriages, 1850-1952."  The record collection list says that there are 1,911,081 records, and was last updated on 20 December 2012.  The database page says there are 3,735,146 images to browse through, and that the collection is 99% complete.  However, it does not include the Lawrence Blanchard/Vivienne Pettit marriage noted above.

The lessons here are:

*  Not every record collection on or FamilySearch is complete.  

* does not have everything available on FamilySearch, and vice versa.

*  FamilySearch digital record collections do not include every record set that is on microfilm.

*  The FamilySearch microfilms do not include every record collection available at the local, county or state level.

*  A researcher needs to check every database, including microfilms and government records, that is available for a county, state or country, and record type.

The URL for this post is:

copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Kenneth R Marks said...

Randy, Thanks for this. I have tons of ancestors etc who were married in Alameda County - so I am spending hours getting dates, index entries and there are a few marriage certificates as well.

I haven't visited for awhile so this is a nice surprise.