Available as a two volume set, Pennsylvania German Marriages: Marriages and Marriage Evidence in Pennsylvania German Churches, by Donna R. Irish, is perhaps the most important collection of Pennsylvania-German source materials to appear since the publication of Strassburger and Hinke’s Pennsylvania German Pioneers over fifty years ago. The book provides documentation on some 50,000 persons of German origin or descent. Based on records in the collection formed by Dr. William J Hinke–records of approximately 100 churches in eastern Pennsylvania–the compiler has developed herein not merely a list of marriages but a genealogical record of the Pennsylvania Germans.
“This is primarily a collection of Pennsylvania German Reformed Church marriage records. Also included are some Luther Church records, a few Union church records (combined Reformed and Lutheran), and records of the North and Southampton Dutch Reformed Church. The records cover eastern Pennsylvania from Philadelphia west to Cumberland county during the time period 1710 and 1860. The largest number of entries represent actual marriages, although evidence of marriage —taken from baptismal, confirmation, communion, burial, and tombstone records—is given where available.”
Volume I covers the approximate 50,000 names in 600 pages. Volume II is an index to volume I, taking 217 pages to cover the names found in the collection.
The records of actual marriages, which form the basis of the work, generally give the names of the bride and groom, the date of marriage, names of parents, place of residence, and sometimes place of origin, date of birth, and previous marital status; while records of marriage deriving from baptismal entries, burial records, etc., variously give names of parents (usually the maiden name of the mother), names of grandparents and sponsors, place and date of birth and/or baptism, names of children, and date of death. Many of the records transcribed here are capsule pedigrees, some identifying three or more generations in a direct line of descent. There is, besides, an abundance of out-of-the-way and unexpected information. Considered as a whole, Pennsylvania German Marriages must rank as one of the premier sources in all of Pennsylvania-German genealogy.
If you do pick up this set, be sure to read the foreword, it contains many great hints. For example, the book notes that “until about 1820 most of the ministers who made these records were German or Swiss born…Thus the records themselves reflect the German spelling and pronunciation of names which may not themselves be German.” The author also covers information regarding women’s names and changes, along with other insightful information.
As these records cover a time period from 1710 to 1860, these 50,000 individuals easily represent the ancestry of millions of people today. Are you one of them?
Get a copy for yourself or your local library of Pennsylvania German Marriages: Marriages and Marriage Evidence in Pennsylvania German Churches from Family Roots Publishing.