Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday's Tip - Ancestry.com Has Connecticut Vital Records (Barbour Collection), But User Beware

This week's Tuesday's Tip is:  Ancestry.com has the Connecticut Vital Records, pre-1870, Barbour Collection Online.  However, caution is advised because of the fragmented, and possibly incomplete, nature of the records presented.

The Barbour Collection is the largest set of vital record indexes available for pre-1870 records for Connecticut.  There are 55 volumes, and they have been collected in relatively recent books edited by Lorraine Cook White and published by the Genealogical Publishing Company between 1994 and 2002.

The 55 volumes are online at Ancestry.com, but they are broken up into three different sets of data - Births, Marriages and Deaths.  The description of the records, from the Ancestry.com collection page, says:

"The Lucious Barnes Barbour Collection, well known to the Connecticut researcher, serves as an index to and an abstract of most pre-1850 Connecticut vital records. It is housed in the Connecticut State Library, but microfilm copies of it are widely available. Begun after establishment of the State Department of Health, Barbour’s project was to abstract and collect all town vital records up to about 1850. There are two formats to the material. The first is a statewide paper slip alphabetical index containing a complete abstract of each vital record taken from the books in each town. The card file holding this index takes up an entire wall at the Connecticut State Library. The second format is the group of separately bound volumes of abstracts of vital records for most towns, prepared from the slips."

Here is the database page for Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection):

The user can search the entire set of Birth records by putting a name in the name fields, and perhaps a place name in the birth location field.

Or, a researcher can browse a specific book by using the dropdown menu in the right-hand panel by choosing a specific volume.

I put Last Name = 'buck" and birth Location = "Killingly, Windham, Connecticut, USA" (picking from the dropdown list), and saw results:

There were 61 matches for my search criteria, so I picked one of them and saw the record summary:

To see the actual published page, I clicked on the "View Original image" and saw one page from the book:

One quirk in all three of the collections is that Ancestry has broken the books up into segments for presentation - a segment for one alphabetic surname letter or even parts of one surname letter.  For instance, the segment above goes from the middle of Brown to the end of the Bs in 7 images, and the 8th image in the set is in the H surnames for some reason.  

Each published volume has births, marriages and deaths in it.  But the three Ancestry databases have them separated, although there are sometimes birth data in death records, and so forth.

Perhaps they did this to prevent a user from browsing through every page of a volume.  

I find it difficult to convince myself that the collections are complete when they are presented this way.  For instance, there are no listings for A surnames, or for B surnames before Brown) for Killingly, Connecticut in any of the three volumes.  Perhaps that is the only flaw in the whole set - I didn't check every town and every surname letter.  Several other towns I checked seem complete but it's difficult to judge without a complete book to browse through.

Other Ancestry.com Barbour Collection databases include:

*  The Connecticut Town Marriage Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection).

*  The Connecticut Town Death Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection)

Earlier published editions of the Barbour Collection books are available on the NEHGS American Ancestors website (also a subscription site).  This collection seems to be the complete volumes and is searchable.  Here is one page from the A surname from the Killingly book:

I did a search for Allen in the Ancestry.com Birth collection and there were no matches for the Killingly book.

Of course, the 55 volumes edited by White have been published and are available at some repositories, but a researcher has to visit the card catalogs of their local libraries, or use WorldCat.org, to determine where the specific volume for their needs is available.

NOTE;  This post started out as a "look what Ancestry has" post, and turned into a whine.  Stuff happens sometimes!  I just tell it like I think it is.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/02/tuesdays-tip-ancestrycom-has.html

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Geolover said...

Quite right to complain, Randy. The way this material is uploaded makes it impossible to determine whether actual entries are missing from the index.

For the section supposedly containing Fairfield County births, the images jump from p. 70 (image no. 1) to p. 114 (image no. 2).

It is also inexplicable that the search results lists omit any place-references.