by James J. Czuchra
This index is a finding aid to marriages in the Archdiocese
of Chicago's Roman-Catholic parishes populated predominantly by Poles.
These are the parishes identified as Polish in John Parot's, Polish
Catholics in Chicago, 1850-1920. He identifies some 57 parishes.
Forty-two of those parishes are included in this index. Most of the
remaining parishes were founded after 1915. The 1915 cutoff date
is significant because the index was prepared from the microfilmed
copies of parish registers. Privacy concerns prevented the release
of records after 1915. Why prepare an index to marriages? Not all
of us are lucky enough to know when our Polish ancestors married
or in which parish. In some cases the records are not indexed at
all, or more commonly by the first letter of the groom's surname
and chronologically thereafter. It is rare that the bride's name
is indexed and even rarer that any names follow strict alphabetical
order. By combining data from the many Polish parishes, you are more
likely to find reference to marriages of interest.
Check out the church by church breakdown of Polish
parishes included in the index, separated into city
of Chicago and suburban parishes.
The film numbers are believed to be correct and can be ordered at
your local Family History Center if they are not already there. In
the Chicago area, the Wilmette FHC has all of the listed films on
As the index is only a finding aid, you should look
up the actual record yourself to glean any additional information
it may contain. Not all parishes were diligent about naming the parents
of the bride and groom although most did. There were only a few parishes
whose records named the Polish village where the person was born.
You may even find interesting stories like the man who had a wife
in the old country and was trying to marry someone else here under
a different name. Don't miss out on potential "gold nuggets" of
information by not going back to the original record.
"Why can't I find my ancestor? I know he/she
was married in Chicago?" Be creative. Try various spellings
of the name. The priest may have spelled the name differently from
what you expect. The handwriting was not always very good in these
records, so transcription errors are possible in addition to typographical
errors. You might also try a search with no surname listed. That
will display the names where the beginning part was messed up, but
maybe you recognize the ending. Consider also that maybe the person
was married after 1915 or in a parish that was not predominantly
How is the index laid out? It is primarily an alphabetical
list of surnames (of both brides and grooms) followed by their given
names. The given names are usually English equivalents of the Polish
or Latin versions appearing in the records. As the index was prepared
over the span of several years and no firm style standards were established,
there could be variations in how a given name is rendered. The name
of the spouse and the date of marriage follow that. The next column
gives the name of the parish. The next columns give the volume
number and page number that the record appears in. The volume number
refers to the marriage register number for that parish. It is not
a real number in that you will always find it stamped on the cover
of the register. Rather they are assigned in chronological sequence-- the
first marriage register is "1", the second register is "2",
etc. The page number is the page number at the top of the page of
the marriage register. The "Film" column is the Family
History Center film number that should contain that record. The "Item" column
is the sequential record group on the film. You
should also scan down toward the end of the list for a desired surname.
If the index shows a "(w)" immediately after a surname,
it means the person was a widow or widower. That designation causes
the name to be indexed after the others. Do not assume that
all the other records refer to "never been married" people.
A few additional notes: St. Stanislaus Kostka Church
Volume 0 is a book of banns and contains a repetition of most marriages
appearing in other volumes. It is a nice source for Polish towns
of origin. Volume 1a is the part of the first volume with many marriages
per page. The page number given in the index is really a serial number
for that marriage since these marriages were numbered sequentially.
Volume 1b has four marriages per page. The page numbers in the index
correspond to real page numbers in the register.
Most dates of marriage for St. Stanislaus Kostka Church
were left out of the index to speed the data collection process.
These entries are really an "index of an index" which is
more error prone. For example, I have run across the name "Seidler" in
a register index, but the actual record has it as "Seidel".
Where a date is given, it is often the last date listed in the record.
It may be the date the banns were published or the actual marriage
date. In one case, the groom-to-be died before the wedding took place.
In a few cases, a marriage may be listed in two parishes. One listing
may be when the banns were published in one home parish while the
other listing may be from the parish where the marriage actually
St. Blase Church in Argo was a mission of St. Joseph
Church in Summit and did not achieve parish status until 1924. The
index includes marriages from St. Joseph since it contains marriages
from what was to be St. Blase Church in Argo.