Genealogy Records Are Not Always Available – August 27, 2020

I see people asking for birth, death, and marriage records from the late 1800s on a regular basis. If the family belonged to a denomination that kept such records, they may be able to access them if the records weren’t destroyed due to a natural or unnatural event. However, it wasn’t until the early 1900s before such records were required by many states to be kept and it often took 30 – 40 years before towns, cities, and counties fully complied with state law.

Many Genealogy and Historical Societies may have records that you can access. How much they have and the cost can vary considerably.

In Wichita, death certificates were issued for people who died inside Wichita city limits starting in 1887. If you died in Sedgwick County, but not within the confines of Wichita, you won’t have a death certificate. MHGS has copies of the death certificates from 1887 – 1910. MHGS also has Divorce Records for the county from 1871 – February 1888: In addition, MHGS has both marriage applications / and MHGS licenses that cover different time periods. In the case of the marriage ledgers, MHGS is in the process of making these available. They have the lists for what’s available and for what’s missing. Here’s a general listing of what’s available for Marriage and Divorce records: Starting with 1955, MHGS has obituaries that were listed in the local newspapers.

Marriage Records

Marriage Licenses:

We have marriage licenses on paper in the file cabinets downstairs and microfilm from February 1879 – April 1913.  It appears that most of the 1884 licenses were missing before microfilming.

Marriage Affidavits:

We have marriage affidavits on microfilm from May 1909 – December 1950.

We also have the original affidavits in locked cabinets in the basement through 1989.  There are some missing: 1907-8 and a few in December 1941, which were missing before microfilming, and 1943-50, which are being indexed but are on the microfilm.

Marriage Ledgers:

We have the original marriage record ledgers from the Sedgwick County Courthouse from May 1870 to Feb 1971.  Each book has an index in the front.  We are looking for volunteers to help complete our master index (see how far we’ve gotten below.)

Marriage Indexes:

We have a published marriage index from May 7, 1870 to Nov 25, 1933.

We also have marriage indexes on the website.  These cover May 9, 1870 to May 24, 1922, May 24, 1922 to 25 Nov. 1933 and May 24, 1922 to December 1941, and Sep 4, 1949 to April 7, 1950.

Some affidavits are missing even if they are listed in the index.  There are some license applications with no returns to confirm that a marriage was performed.  There is even a period, April 1, 1915 to May 28, 1917, for which there are no marriages recorded, although there are applications.

In general, if the online index uses a date as the identifier, we have the record. If the online index uses a number, such as R405, we do not have the record.

We have some engagement and marriage announcements from the Wichita Eagle/Beacon, mostly from the 1940s and 50s.

Divorce Records

MHGS holds microfilmed copies of divorce files from 1871 to February 1917.

Divorce Index

About ICT Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
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