Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Massachusetts Vital Record collections on FamilySearch Pilot

The LDS Pilot website recently added a number of databases to their collection, including many vital record collections from US states. I was particularly interested in the Massachusetts vital record collections.

Five vital records collections are listed:

* Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915 (5.9 million records)**
* Massachusetts Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910 (3.7 million records)**
* Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915 (only 1906 to 1915 at present, 58% complete)
* Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910 (3.0 million records)**
* Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915) (only 1896, 1897 and 1906-1915 at present, 27% complete)

Why are there two sets of Deaths/Burials and Marriages? They apparently come from two different sources. The three noted by ** above have extracted information and no images, while the other two, partial, databases have extracted information with images.

I wanted to see how the new databases worked, so I clicked on the Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910 database and entered Isaac Seaver into the search fields:

Rather than search immediately, I wanted to determine the sources of the information in this database. I clicked on the "About This Collection" link below the search box and saw:

The link takes the user to the FamilySearch Research Wiki page with information about this specific database. Further down the page is the information about the Sources of this collection:

For this database, the Source is shown to be:

"'Massachusetts Vital Records Index,' database, FamilySearch. Digital copies of originals housed in various repositories throughout Massachusetts.

Each entry in this index has a source listed. The index may be a compilation of records from a variety of sources, including the following:
Family Records
Church Records
Civil Registration

That's fairly useless, isn't it? It does say that "each entry in this index has a source listed." OK, let's see if we can figure it out.

Back on the Search page, I clicked on "Search" with the name "Isaac" "Seaver." The results looked like this:

There were 17 matches. The second one down is my Isaac Seaver's third marriage, and when I ran my mouse over his name the information box with the indexed data shows up:

If I click on Isaac Seaver's name, then the information from this record shows up in the right hand panel:

The icon for "Record Image" is gray, so there are no images for this record, only the extracted data in the results panel for the specific person.

Both the mouse-over box and the record data page show the same items:

* Groom's Name: Isaac Seaver
* Groom's Age: 64
* Groom's Birthdate: 1824
* Bride's Name: Alvina M. Lreis Bradley
* Bride's Age: 40
* Bride's Birthdate: 1848
* Marriage Date: 15 Oct 1888
* Marriage Place: St. Regis Falls, New York
* Groom's Father's Name: Benjamin
* Groom's Mother's Name: Abigail
* Bride's Father's Name: Harvey
* Bride's Mother's Name: Sarah F. Bradley
* Indexing Project Number: M01822-6
* System Origin: Massachusetts EASy
* Source Film Number: 1415225
* Reference Number: Page 373

So how can I find the source of this information? The best way is to look up the LDS Microfilm Number in the Family History Library Catalog. Using the Film/Fiche Search, I easily found the film information here. The specific film is:

In this case, there are two volumes for this record range, and I don't know which volume has this record, specifically on page 373. The record also does not tell me in which Massachusetts town records the event was recorded. I'm pretty sure that it is in Leominster in Worcester County, but the record in Record Search does not state the town.

These records are also online at the New England Historic Genealogical Society website,, but the researcher must be an NEHGS subscriber.

To summarize, the indexed records are excellent, but the sources for this dataset leave a lot to be desired.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wonderful, thanks for sharing the good news!