Monday, April 8, 2013

Military Monday : Saying "I Do" During World War II

Celebrating their wedding during World War II,
photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Last week I transcribed several hundred wedding records from the mid-1940s and realized what a picture they gave of life during World War II.  Before my last upload to FamilySearch, the teacher in me ended up doing a quick item analysis of the records.  It resulted in an interesting snapshot of life.

Calhoun County, Alabama, the county of the records I was transcribing, was home to an Army base, Ft. McClellan.  It was not surprising that over 50% of the records I transcribed were for soldiers stationed at the base, along with several Navy and Marine personnel apparently home on leave.  Over 5% of the records involved brides in the military, one indicator of the number of women serving in the military at that time.

Others not in the military listed their occupation as working in a defense plant, ship builder, aircraft  inspector, or bomb maker, again showing the jobs that were supporting the war effort.

Some days were busy ones for the base’s Army chaplains as almost 15% were married on base, with chaplains sometimes performing three or four weddings on a single day.  I also came to recognize the names of several local ministers who married a number of the couples.

In the past I sometimes had found marriage record registers in the South segregated by race, but these 1944-1945 records I transcribed had all races recorded in the same register.  Another small sign of changes in society.

I felt some kinship with many of these couples.  My husband and I set our wedding date according to when he could get a week-end off, knowing that he would soon be heading to Vietnam.  My father was a soldier in World War II and my mother a nurse, married at the base chapel.  A brother-in-law is a retired Army chaplain.  So to all those couples associated with the military whose marriages I indexed, Happy Anniversary!


  1. A very good point. It is an interesting insight how the historical times shaped the marriages. A good read!

  2. A very interesting article. In my researches of WW1 soldiers in Barnsley, South Yorkshire (home of the Barnsley Pals regiments) I have found instances of men 'overstaying leave' to visit pregnant wives and new babies. I must keep my eyes open for a 'marriage bulge' just before the men are sent overseas in January 1916. Or even illegitimate children born up to nine months later whose mum's didn't quite manage to 'catch' the father before he left.