Casefile Clues

02 August 2012

Tennessee Marriages on FamilySearch

It makes me wonder how many people are confused about the Tennessee marriages that appear on FamilySearch.

There are three databases relative to marriages from Tennessee:
  • "Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950"
  • "Tennessee, Marriages, 1796-1950"
  • "Tennesse, State Marriage Index, 1780-2002"
What is the difference? Good question.

"Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950"

From the FamilySearch  site: "Name indexes and images of Tennessee county marriages from 1790 through 1950 acquired from local courthouses. This collection contains searchable index data and images for marriage registers, marriage licenses, marriage bonds, and marriage certificates. Currently this collection is 16% complete. Additional records by county will be added as they are completed. Some images may not be viewable due to contract restrictions."

"Tennessee, Marriages, 1796-1950"

From the FamilySearch site: "Name index to marriage records from the state of Tennessee. Microfilm copies of these records are available at the Family History Library and FamilySearch Centers. Due to privacy laws, recent records may not be displayed. The year range represents most of the records. A few records may be earlier or later. "

Clicking on the link to "learn more," it is indicated that these entries come from the International Genealogical Index. This means that the entries might come from county records that were transcribed or submissions from church members that may have been completely undocumented.

"Tennesse, State Marriage Index, 1780-2002"

From the FamilySearch site: "Index of marriages from the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Index provided by Ancestry.com"

What Is the Difference?

FamilySearch has microfilmed copies of county level records--those are in the first database.

FamilySearch compiled the IGI over decades and this database contains just those entries that were for marriages in Tennessee--these entries can come from extractions of local records done by volunteers in the pre-Internet days or submissions from church members.

FamilySearch has, for the time being, obtained the rights to an index of marriages that Ancestry.com created to records of Tennessee marriages that are maintained by the Tennessee State Library and Archives. It may be that the "records maintained" by the TSLA are simply microfilmed copies of the county records.

What to do?

Learn about the records and make certain you are getting the original if at all possible. Some of the records used for the TSLA index and the "County Marriage" index appear to have been ledgers created years after the marriage. These items would be considered derivative in nature at best.

We'll have an additional blog post about a specific entry later. Stay tuned.