Love and Marriage At Ancestry, Marriage Index

McEiztee, W.H. The bride Coshocton, Ohio 1908 Library of Congress


When you work on your family history, you realize that life consists of major events that need to be tracked, such as births, marriages, and deaths. But it’s what we learn from those events and records that tell our family’s story and create a rich family history.

Last year Ancestry brought us the Obituary Index, and we all know what a wealth of information obituaries can be, and now they are introducing the Marriage Index. Ancestry says they have the world’s largest, searchable digital archive of newspaper published historical wedding announcements.

Just like the obituary collection (read more about that HERE), t this new marriage collection uses machine learning to search the newspapers and find engagement and wedding announcements in the newspapers at It then tries to match them to the people we have in our trees.

I can’t begin to understand the science; all I know is that I will get even more hints, which means more information about my family. I do know that Ancestry Hints® are records and trees that may be about my family. The AI is looking at all the information I’ve put in my tree and cross-referencing it with all the names, places, dates, and other information it gathers and then provides me with a hint… those shaky leaves that just might help me with my tree..

So getting back to those marriage and engagement records. What will you learn? Well, as you can imagine, you’ll find out the names of the couple being married, dates, and locations, of the wedding but it’s more than that. It all depends on what was put in or reported on in the newspaper. Yes, there were not just the announcements, but sometimes there were entire articles about the event.  So, records often provide details about ages, residence, occupation, parents’ names, and more.

This record index is so large that it will be released in phases. The first phase includes over 200 million records from marriage and engagement announcements in newspapers from all across the United States.

I was given the opportunity to see what I could find out about one branch of my family, the Risdale’s, that had come to the U.S. from Yorkshire, England.

Samuel Risdale was born in 1762 in Spofforth, Yorkshire, England, and he’s my 6x great grandfather. A cousin in Australia (an excellent researcher) researched Samuel and my 6x great grandmother, Ann Smoulton, years ago. I’d never gone back and looked at the children, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that one of my AncestryDNA matches was a descendant of a line that had immigrated to the U.S. I decided to have a look at what I could find out about some of their descendants.

Meet Mr. Prosper Powell…. he’s the husband of their 2x great-granddaughter, Verna Camidge Ridsdale. I’d done my research and found Prosper and wondered what I would find in the new Marriage Index about their marriage.

This index tells us that Prosper Powell is to marry (and to whom), who his father is, and the marriage date. We also learn that Prosper is an employee of a Rubber Company.

If you have a Publisher Extra subscription, you can access this entire article with one click.  There you’d find the name of his bride’s parents and the address of both sets of parents. It goes on to tell you that the wedding will take place next year.

Note that some announcements may be accessed with just an Ancestry All Access or Basic subscription. But certain newspapers (like this one) require a Publisher Extra subscription as certain newspapers require additional licenses to view their content. I’ve had my Publisher Extra subscription for just over a year, and that’s because The Edmonton Journal is included.  I’ve found so many articles about my family that, to me, it’s worth every penny.

Here’s the other article that I found.

This article is about a surprise bridal shower. The index tells us that Prosper Powell was to marry in 1940, and his spouse is Verna Ridsdale, my 3rd cousin 4x removed.

Again using my access I learned the address of the party and the address of the bride as well as all the guests that attended.

You can see that just by looking at information in the Marriage Index, you learn more about these people who are your family, and it makes you want to learn more about them. So I dug deeper, and now I know that Prosper worked for the U.S. Rubber Company (Uniroyal), founded in 1892. That’s pretty cool.

Who will you find in this new collection, and what will you learn about them?


Note: The post above contains affiliate links. This means I make a small percentage of the sales via these links. This does not INCREASE the price you pay as a consumer. This is a supplement to my income so I can continue  to support The DNA Angel Project and to make donations to the Alzheimer’s’ Society

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