Lubbock Preserves Millions of Marriage Licenses, Prepares for Future Changes


The Lubbock County Clerk’s Office has a records of every marriage license issued in Lubbock since 1881. Their system for issuing marriage licenses has stayed roughly the same until now that same sex marriages are on the horizon.

Lubbock County Clerk Kelly Pinion has many marriage licenses to keep track of. “Millions and millions,” she says.

She’s proud proud to help preserve all of Lubbock’s marriage records which have transitioned in the last decade from paper versions into a digital form. The volumes and volumes of paper records are still kept around because people request them from time to time, whether tracing family history or verifying a will. These paper records–many of them handwritten– hold a piece of Lubbock’s history.

You can even find Buddy Holly in the record books. His name is in a very heavy book under the year 1958 when he married Maria Elena Santiago.

To keep all these records straight, the clerk’s office lives and breathes organization. That’s why it was stressful for Pinion’s office when the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage was issued, because she hadn’t had time or support to plan for the changes.

Pinion explained that she had been instructed to wait to make marriage license changes until the Supreme Court made a decision on same sex marriage. So when the ruling was announced last week, her office had to rush to make changes.

“To my understanding,” Pinion said,”in other cases that there’s been window to prepare for something and we did not have that blessing this time.”

Her office is currently working with their vendors to change the marriage license forms for same sex couples. These possibly the biggest changes the Lubbock County Clerk’s office has ever seen in marriage licenses.

“It’s been standard as far as I know since the 1800’s how the licenses were issued and prepared,” Pinion said. “This is a big major change.”

These marriage license forms help relatives look up lost history and help partners get the benefits they need. From the 1880’s to 2015, these forms are more than just a piece of paper for people who commit their lives to each other.

Caleb Crow and Emily Powell who picked up a marriage license at the clerk’s office today said initially they weren’t too sentimental about the actual certificate.

“We’re pretty comfortable in a digital world, so a piece of paper will probably just go in a file cabinet,” Crow said.

But once they received the certificate, the couple was all smiles. They even talked about framing it as their own piece of history on their wall. 

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