In the first post of this series, Nathaniel Wade (1709-1754) married Ruth (who?) in 1731? I described my evidence and conclusions that the maiden name of Ruth was Hawkins rather than Hopkins, which appeared in Volume 3 of James Arnold's Vital Records of Rhode Island, 1636-1850. In the second post, Finding Nathaniel Wade's Wife's Name Online - Post 2, I went through trying to find online text and database information about the marriage.
In this post, I'm going to survey the online commercial database services for the marriage of Nathaniel Wade in the 21 volumes of James Arnold's Vital Records of Rhode Island.
My first thought was that the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) (www.NewEnglandAncestors.org) would have the database, and I was right. However, they have transcriptions of the entries, and not images. I put Nathaniel Wade in the search fields, then selected Vital Records, and then Vital Records of Rhode Island, and saw this screen:
The marriage of Nathaniel Wade and Ruth Hopkins is the fourth item on the list. If you click on the "More" link in the screen above you can see all of the entries on the specific page with the search result entry. You can also advance page by page in the book.
Next, I checked World Vital Records. I put Nathaniel Wade in the search fields, and selected the Vital Records of Rhode Island from the list, and then found the match for Nathaniel Wade. The specific page from the book was displayed as an image. I could go backwards or forwards in the book using the arrows next to the page number:
Next was Ancestry.com. I used the Card Catalog to find the Vital Records of Rhode Island by Arnold (it wasn't easy, I finally searched the site for "Vital Record of Rhode Island" - the database book title is not spelled correctly!), then searched for Nathaniel Wade (exact, including similar meanings and spelling). There were 12 matches - the screen below shows some of them:
None of the 12 matches were for the marriage record of Nathaniel Wade and Ruth Hopkins in Scituate, RI. I know it's there, because I've found it in the NEHGS and WVR sites! I clicked on the fourth one down (the children of Nathaniel and Ruth in Scituate) and then used the page number field to browse until I found the record on page 30 of the book:
I wonder why it didn't find this page in the search, because the type is very clear. Did they not index every name in the book? I put "Ruth Hopkins" in the search fields and got:
Two matches, and it did not find the marriage record for Ruth Hopkins and Nathaniel Wade. What's up with this? It appears that the ONLY way to find reliable information in this particular database is to browse the 21 volumes rather than search them. That works fine, but is pretty slow. Are these index and/or search problems only for this database? Or is it worse than that - and nobody knows which databases have complete indexes?