Friday, April 8, 2016

*Brand New* Online Resource: NY City Clerk Marriage Index, 1908-1929

I am a big fan of the non-profit group Reclaim the Records, which is fighting to get public access to the public records genealogy depends on. Their first case, and first success, won the release of copies of the microfilmed indexes to the NYC City Clerk's Marriage Indexes for 1908-1929. These were put online at the Internet Archive today, and I got right to work!

The records indexed here are distinct from the Health Department records already indexed by the Italian Genealogical Group and available on its website, as well as at Ancestry and elsewhere online. Reclaim the Records says,

"These marriage records were kept by the New York City Clerk's Office, not the Health Department. And they are not the 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 usually several weeks before the marriage; the date is not the same date that the wedding took place."

It seems that these records should cover the same couples covered by the Health Department Records (plus anyone who applied for a marriage license and then didn't actually get married), but they may contain additional information. What additional information, or how much of it, I'm not sure of.

I picked a couple to use as a test case - my trickiest set of great-grandparents in this time period. My great-grandmother, Maria D'Ingeo, was born in a still-undetermined location, and my great-grandfather, Domenico Gatto, was married once before, but I have no information on his first marriage. These seem like great records to possibly provide some information about one or both of these topics, so I wrote to the NYC Municipal Archives to request the record. Once I receive it and see what it contains, I'll be able to evaluate whether to pursue this set of records for each set of my great-grandparents who married in NYC.

Bonus Tip: Check the end of each section of the index! Apostrophes are tricky. The index is arranged by year, then by first letter of the last name, then by quarter, then by first two letter of the last name. So to find a Maria D'Ingeo who was married in October 1919, you would expect to go to 1919, then to the letter D, then scroll through to the last quarter of the year, and then go to the Di section. If you did this, you would read through every name that starts with Di and not find her. You have to then scroll through an extra 1.5 blank pages of pre-printed DIs to find "D'Ingea, Maria" at the very end. Always check the end if you don't find your subject where you expect to.

genealogy, reclaim the records, vital records, family history, marriage records, public records access
Screenshot: Index to NYC City Clerk's Marriage Records
1919 - D - Sep-Dec - Di
D'Ingea, Maria

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