09 October 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: Harry Liebross and Gertrude Bohrer Marriage License & Certificate

The star of this post is not the marriage certificate pictured below. It was the New York City "Affidavit for License to Marry" that saved the day. New York City marriage licenses are a challenge to locate, but once found, they may provide information that is rewarding.

From 1908 through 1937 New York City issued two sets of marriage records: the certificate from the Department of Health and the license from the City Clerk's Office. [1] After 1937 marriages no longer were recorded by the Health Department and all records were filed at County Clerk's Offices. While the license often does not provide much additional genealogical information, it can help when dealing with difficult handwriting and it may provide some previously unknown tidbits.  

This is the marriage certificate for Harry Liebross and Gertrude Bohrer. I will provide a transcription of their marriage license, later in this article.
Kings County, New York, Certificate and Record of Marriage no, 10964 [handwritten], no. 8883 [stamped] (25 June 1927), Harry Liebross and Gertrude Bohrer, Municipal Archives, New York City.

Items shown in red text are items I will be discuss further, below.

[1st page]
Groom: Harry Liebross
Residence: 291 Stuyvesant Ave
Age: 31
Color: White
Single, Widowed or Divorced: Single
Occupation: hatter
Birthplace: Rodowic, Austria
Father's Name: Louis
Mother's Maiden Name: Bertha Weingarten
Number of Groom's Marriage: first

Bride: Gertrude Bohrer
719 Crown St
Age: 21
Color: White
Single, Widowed or Divorced: Single
Maiden Name, if a Widow: [blank]
Birthplace: New York City.
Father's Name: Harry
Mother's Maiden Name: Minnie Sokoloff
Number of Bride's Marriage: first

I hearby certify that the above-named groom and bride were joined in marriage by me, in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, at Temple Petach Tikvah Rochester Ave & Lincoln Place, in the borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, this 25 of June, 1927.

Signature of person performing the ceremony:
                                              /s/ B. Reuben Welerstein
                                             Official Station: Rabbi Temple 
                                                                         Petach Tikvah
Witnesses to } A. Jassen      Residence: 1669 President St
the Marriage } H. Muss   

[2nd page]  
WE hereby certify that we are the Groom and Bride named in this Certificate, and that the information given therein is correct, to the best of our knowledge and belief.
                              /s/ Harry Liebross  Groom
                              /s/ Gertrude Bohrer Bride  

Signed in the presence of  /s/ A. Jassen and  
/s/ H. Muss
For most of us doing New York City research, the certificate of marriage is the standard for marriage information. The certificates through 1937 have been indexed (now on the New York City Italian and German genealogy websites and on Ancestry) and may be ordered either directly from the Municipal Archives or via microfilm from FamilySearch. Easy pickin'.

The licenses, however, are not indexed online and microfilm copies only reside with the Municipal Archives or County Clerk's Offices. The Municipal Archives has indexes for the years 1908-1951, but only license records from 1908-1929.[2]  

Knowing the borough in which a couple married, date of the marriage, and at least one of the surnames involved is critical to locating the license record in the index. The index is divided by boroughs and then 3-month segments of each year. Surnames may be located within each segment by searching on the first two letters of the name. The date used for placement in the index is the date of the license, not the date of the wedding.

So, I arrived at the Municipal Archives armed with names and dates of marriage for all couples I am researching who married in New York City between 1908 and 1929. Typically, couples would apply for their license within a few days to a week or two of their wedding. I have found some that married more than a month later and some that never did marry (!). One must laboriously scroll through the microfilm to locate the indexed records.

I do not have the actual image of Harry and Gertie's license that I viewed on microfilm at the New York City Municipal Archives. [3] During my visit I planned to find as many licenses as possible for quite a few of my New York City relatives who had married there. The Municipal Archives charges a fee for paper copies of each record. So, I created a form and transcribed the records as I found them. 

Kings County, New York, Affidavit for License to Marry no. 10964 (17 June 1927; marriage date 25 June 1927), Harry Liebross and Gertrude Bohrer; "Brooklyn Marriage Licenses 1927, 10700-11599," Municipal Archives, New York City, microfilm roll K1927-416 MN 36416; transcription made from microfilmed image.

If not for the more clearly written license I would not have been able to decipher the Rabbi's name (B. Reuben Welerstein), the synagogue name (Petach Tikvah), or the surname of one of the witnesses (Jassen) as written on the certificate. 

Even after seeing Temple Petach Tikvah on the license, I still could not make out the script written sideways on the far right of the certificate (see above). However, I used my new knowledge to find Temple Petach Tikvah's address in a Brooklyn City Directory and determined that Rabbi Welerstein had written, "Rochester Ave and Lincoln." [4] 

Licenses provide information never included on the New York City marriage certificates of the era: bride's occupation. In this case, we find that Gertie had been working as a stenographer before marriage. This could mean that she had attended business classes to learn that skill - something for further research.

Sometimes one sees witness addresses on certificates. In this case, however, while witnesses' addresses are not on the certificate, they were provided on the license. I neither know who these people were nor their relationships with the couple. But, should I endeavor to research further, I now have their addresses as of June 1927.
1. For further in-depth discussion of these records, see Leslie Corn, "City Clerk's License, New York City, 1908-1937: One of 20th Century Genealogy's Best Primary Sources," The NYG&B Newsletter, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1999: 23-27.
2. Estell M. Guzik, Genealogical Resources in New York (New York City: Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc., 2003), 113.
3. One may view an image of an actual 1947 affidavit in a prior post.
4. R.L. Polk & Co.'s 1933 Brooklyn City Directory (New York City, NY: R.L. Polk & Co., Inc, 1933), 2019, entry for "Temple Petach Tikvah"; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 October 2014).


  1. A. JASSEN listed as a witness is Hazan Avraham Jassen (was Iasin). He was the brother of my great-great-grandmother Mushe Kreine Iasin of Mogilev, Belarus, the wife of Menahem Mendl ben Ber TALALAI. He also sung with Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera. Later retired to Sarasota, Florida.

    1. Whoah, Schelly! You've blown me away! Was Petach Tikva his synagogue? He did live just a few blocks from the Rabbi.


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