Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kissing Cousins

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Here is a great FREE webinar on Preserving Photographs.  Per the course synopsis, “This presentation offers basic guidance on the care and preservation of family photographs from nineteenth-century tintypes to contemporary color prints. The webinar addresses the fundamental physical and chemical properties of photographic print and negative materials, including albums and scrapbooks, and the causes and mechanisms of their deterioration. Strategies for preservation, such as proper handling, storage and display techniques, will be shared.”  This webinar is sponsored by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, a division of the American Library Association.

Blog reader Angel sent me a fascinating story about Iceland.  Iceland has a very small population so they have a problem with people that are too closely related dating/marrying.  Everyone is pretty much related to everyone else in one way or another.  They now have an app for that.  You can read about it HERE.

Most genealogists have come across cousin marriages in their research, especially if you do research in rural areas.  I was curious to know which states allow cousin marriages (this of course is current law). 

Here is a list of states that allow first cousin marriages with no restrictions:

New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina (DOUBLE first cousins is illegal)
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Washington DC

Here is a list of states that allow first cousin marriages with caveats:

Arizona – allowed if couple unable to have children
Illinois – allowed if couple unable to have children
Indiana – allowed if couple unable to have children
Maine – allowed if couple submits to genetic counseling
Minnesota – allowed if couple is Native American and if that culture allows it
Utah – allowed if couple unable to have children
Wisconsin – allowed if couple unable to have children

This only pertains to first cousins. There are also laws that make other relationships illegal (father-daughter, brother-sister, uncle-niece, etc.) and these also vary by state. I was really surprised to see it is illegal in Mississippi.  I can’t even tell you how many cousin marriages I have in my family in that state. 

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. I thought first cousin marriages were not allowed in any state. Thank you for posting this!

  2. You are welcome, Kathleen. I thought it was an interesting topic. If you grew up around your cousins then you would probably think this was "icky" but what if you didn't know who your first cousins were? Let's say you were adopted. You could easily fall in love and marry your first cousin without ever even knowing about it.