I’ve had a love-hate relationship with turn-of-the-(20th)-century Cook County marriage licenses for years now. To put it as elegantly as possible, they bite. In general, the information is limited to:
• Groom’s name, age
• Bride’s name, age
• Officiant’s name
• Officiant’s address
• Date of marriage
• Date of license issue
By contrast, counties Iowa or Ohio in the same period collection a wealth of information. Parents’ full names, occupations, prior marriages, addresses, all of the creamy goodness of a great genealogy record is included.
What’s a poor Cook County researcher to do? Well, the other day I was wondering how far it was from my grandmother’s address to the church where she was married. And then it hit me: I could put all those officiant addresses in Google Maps. Here’s an example – the marriage license for William Donegan and Josephine Jankowski:
Add in the officiant’s address (30 E. Superior) and swivel around a bit in Google Maps and suddenly I have a church and a parish I can work with:
Nice, eh? So take another look at your Cook County (or other big city) marriage records. You might be pleasantly surprised.