If you missed last Tuesday’s USCIS History Office webinar, “Married at Ellis Island…., 1892-1924,” you missed a good one. I won’t review all the details, but here are a few tidbits: It’s estimated that perhaps 300 women a year “married at Ellis Island” to their intended spouse in lieu of deportation on the grounds of “likely to become a public charge” or risk of falling into prostitution. The “Record of Detained Aliens” (title may vary) that follows the regular passenger lists for a given vessel (on microfilm or online) may have the notation “married” or similar words as a part of the information for the detained woman. The marriage record will be found in the New York City marriage records for that period which are online on Ancestry.com. A marriage on the alien woman’s date of arrival or during the day(s) she was detained is a good clue that the marriage happened “at Ellis Island” and was a requirement for her admission to the United States.
The images of the cards in the record series, “Carded Marriage Records, 1883-1916” are now online. This series, which is part of Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, consists of cards with the following information: name of man, his rank or occupation, and unit to which he belonged; name of woman, her age and birthplace; date and place of marriage; name of medical officer who signed the report; and, sometimes, the date of report. Some of the marriages were performed at civilian locations off-post. If the woman was the daughter of an Army officer, his name, rank, and unit may also be noted. The information on these cards was copied by clerks from the original reports submitted by post medical officers. One of the clerks who wrote these cards had excessively ornate handwriting that is often difficult to interpret.
These records may help descendants of the 898 marriages included in this series locate an otherwise difficult-to-find marriage–for example, if their Regular Army ancestor married at an unexpected location.
These records have been placed online as a part of the continuing effort of the National Archives to make more records available online through its Catalog of holdings.