Marriage booklets: why they are important even if you can’t find them

In the third quarter of the nineteenth century, municipal authorities began to hand out “trouwboekjes” [marriage booklets] to the bride and groom at the time of their marriage. This booklet would contain the names of the spouses, date and place of their marriage, and had room for the names, birth places and birth dates of any children born to this couple. These booklets can be hard to find, as they are personal documents rather than government documents. The place to find them is in your family, not at an archive. Still, even if you do not have these documents, they can be important for your research.

Information in the marriage booklet

A marriage booklet provided at the minimum the following information:

  • Full names of the spouses
  • Date and place of their marriage
  • Full names, and places and dates of birth of their children

Since the end of the 19th century, marriage booklets have become more informative and often also include:

  • Place and date of birth of both spouses
  • Place and date of death of both spouses
  • Place and date of death of any children who died before reaching adulthood

Example: marriage booklet of Cornelis Flooren and Catharina van der Sanden

Marriage booklet of Cornelis Flooren and Catharina van der Zanden (p. 1)
Marriage booklet of Cornelis Flooren and Catharina van der Zanden (p. 1)

Page 1:

In the year one thousand eight hundred seventy two the fourteenth [in margin: fifteenth] November, were joined in matrimony the persons of:
Cornelis Flooren and
Catharina van der Sanden
For exact extract,
Teteringen, 14 November 1874,
The clerk of the Civil Registration in Teteringen,

[signed]
E Oomen

Marriage booklet of Cornelis Flooren and Catharina van der Zanden (p. 2)
Marriage booklet of Cornelis Flooren and Catharina van der Zanden (p. 2)

page 2:

Petrus, born in Breda on 5 February 1873

Johannes, [born in Breda on] 7 May 1875, died [in Breda] 1876

Maria Catharina, born in ‘s Princenhage 31 March 1877

Adrianus [born in 's Princenhage] 7 June 1880

Hendrikus Cornelis [born in 's Princenhage] 9 May 1884

Maria Johanna [born in 's Princenhage] 22 June 1887

Johannes Hendrikus [born in 's Princenhage] 27 March 1890.

Use of the marriage booklet

Until World War II, the marriage booklet was the closest thing many people had to an official ID. It was the document they referred to when they wanted to check some vital information about themselves or their children. The father would take the booklet with him when he went to register the birth of a new addition to the family and the child would be recorded in the book. Likewise, if either spouse died, the person registering that death would borrow the marriage booklet. Sometimes the death was recorded in the marriage booklet.

How is this relevant for your research?

As genealogists, we always try to find multiple pieces of evidence for our conclusions. When we find a birth, marriage and death record that all provide consistent information about the birth date of a person, we may think we are done: we have three original documents, created by government officials who had no stake in the matter, with different informants, that all agree.

However, these records may not be independent. The information in the death record may have been copied from the marriage booklet, which in turn is based on the information in the marriage record. The marriage record would have gotten the information about the age of the spouses from the extracts of their birth records. The informants may not be the same, but the source of the information is: the information about the birth date and age is derived from the birth record in all these cases. Instead of three pieces of the puzzle, we have three copies of the same piece.

When we analyze records for their value as evidence, it’s important to realize that the marriage booklet may be the underlying document for many of the records. To find independent evidence of information about births and parentage, we may need to go beyond the convenient civil registration records and verify the information using population registers, death duties files and other sources.

Dutch Genealogy source score

5 Stars Amount of information about births, marriages, deaths
2 Stars Amount of background information about your ancestors
1 Stars Online availability of scans
1 Stars Online availability of indexes or transcriptions
3 Stars Easy to understand if you don’t know Dutch

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for 20 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

Comments

  1. Leuk artikel! Had nog nooit zo’n oud trouwboekje gezien. Helaas in mijn familie niet bewaard gebleven.

    • Een verre neef had dat boekje een keer bij zich, meteen onder de scanner gelegd :-) Sindsdien contact verloren en intussen is hij overleden dus ik heb geen idee of dat boekje nog bestaat, maar gelukkig hebben we de scans nog!

  2. Leuke foto bij mijn commentaar :-)

  3. Carmen Johnson says:

    I am fortunate to have a Photo copy of “truwboekje” of my grandparents and also my parents. My sister has the original copies. They have valuable information.

Leave comment

*