Monday, March 17, 2014

Mining the "Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988" Collection

I've been methodically going through the wonderful "Massachusetts Town and vital Records, 1620-1988" collection on finding original or derivative vital record images for my Massachusetts ancestors in the 1620 to 1850 time frame.  I prefer the original, handwritten town record book images if they are available, but will use derivative images (handwritten transcriptions of earlier records, published typed book pages, etc.) if the original images are not available.

I thought that my readers might be interested in my "mining" process finding the records, then saving the image, renaming the image, putting it in a surname folder, attaching the Media to a person in my RootsMagic database, adding a source citation and an Event note for one record.

Here is my "mining" process:

1)  In my Ancestry Member Tree, I find a "branch" of my tree and try to look at all of the persons on the screen in one time period:

I have lots of green leaf Hints on the chart above.  I chose Ephraim Sawtell in the #1 position to work on.

2)  Here is the "Media" tab view for Ephraim Sawtell (1734-1800):

I had 1 Unreviewed Hint, 6 Ignored Hints and 2 Accepted Hints for him.

Generally, I ignore Hints from Family Trees, indexes, public member photos that are not a document or a picture, records without an image, etc.  So I "Ignored" the 1 Unreviewed Hint, looked at the other Ignored Hints (but didn't accept any of them), and looked at the two Accepted Hints (shown below):

I wanted to save the first Accepted Hint above so I clicked on it (I had already attached it to Ephraim Sawtell in my Ancestry Member Tree) so that I could save it to my computer and add it to my Media for Ephraim Sawtell in my RootsMagic database.

3)  I clicked on the link to the record, and saw the page image from the Groton, Mass. town record book for Births, Marriages, Deaths:

The birth of Ephraim Sawtell on 18 January 1734 is on the left-hand page on the image above (the penned page number is 29 in this particular record book), and it's on image 435 of 990 in this particular collection of Groton town records (the image numbers are at the bottom of the screen above).  I clicked on the green "Saved" button at the top right of the screen above and then on "Save to my computer" (shown above) and the image downloaded to my Downloads file folder on my computer.

4)  The downloaded file name was 40143_266088__0016-00016.jpg so I changed the file name to EphraimSawtell-1734-BirthRecord-GrotonMA BMD-page29-image435of990 using my file naming convention.

I then moved the file from my Downloads folder to my Surname file folder for C:\Users\Randy\Documents\Genealogy\Ancestor Files\Family History - Seaver-Hildreth-Richmond-White\Sawtell\03-hezekiah sawtell + joanna wilson\Documents

5)  With the record image in my Surname file folder, i'm ready to attach the image as a Media item to Ephraim Sawtell in my RootsMagic database.

I opened Ephraim Sawtell's Edit Person page, and clicked on the "Media" button.  There was nothing on the "Media album" for Ephraim Sawtell.  So I clicked on the "Add new media" button, and selected the record image in the Surname file folder, and clicked on the "Open" button.  The "Media properties" screen opened and I added a Caption for the image.

I was back to the "Media Album" for Ephraim Sawtell, and the record image was included.  I then went to the "Tag media" button, and the "Tag Media" screen opened so I clicked on "Event" and chose the Birth event to tag.  Back to the "Media Album" and the file name trail for the image in the lower right-hand corner added to the Caption area:

I was done on the "Media Album" screen, so I clicked on the "OK" button and was back to the "Edit Person" screen.  I had a check mark in the "Media" column for the name of Ephraim Sawtell and for the Birth event.

6)  The next task was to craft a source citation for this record found in one portion of the Groton, Mass. record books in the Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 database on  I already had the Master Source for this database in my Source List, so I selected that Master Source from the "Cite existing source" list and added the Source detail to complete the source citation.  Here is my Footnote source citation for this record digital image:

Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, digital images, (, "Groton Births, Marriages and Deaths," page 29 (image 435 of 990), Ephraim Sawtell birth entry.

During the Source citation creation, I clicked the "Quality" button and selected "Original" Source, "Primary" Information, and "Direct" Evidence.

Here is the "Citation Manager" screen for this specific record image:

 I wasn't done.  I added this Source citation as a Name source and as a Parents source on the "Edit Person" screen.

I've started adding a transcription of the specific entry to the Event Note and added:

"Ephriam Sawtell son of Hezekiah Sawtell & Joanna his wife was born of Groton January 18th 1734"

I then added that information to the General Note for Ephraim Sawtell.

7)  All in all, that took perhaps five minutes from start to finish.

If there were additional green leaf Hints to download and attach, I can go Back to the Ancestry Hint list and deal with them.  I've found that if I deal with one person at a time in Accepting or Ignoring Hints that I find everything there is to find and download (at least until the record collections are updated).

Because I put the specific record book, the penned page number, and the image number in the file name, I don't have to go look for the record on Ancestry more than once.  If I go through this process every time I download a record image, it's fresh in my mind and I can complete the process efficiently.

UPDATE:  Geolover asked what is the "Media" button in comments.  Here is the "Edit Person" screen for Ephraim Sawtell after the above work.  The "Media" button is on the row of buttons above the person's name:

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Jackie Corrigan said...

Oh Randy, you are so disciplined! I have to confess to saving items all over the desktop and then trying to sort them out. LOL! I must try and be more like you.

Geolover said...

Randy, thanks for this example.

You say:

"2) Here is the "Media" tab view for Ephraim Sawtell"

What do you mean by ~"Media" tab~, and where is it?

Randy Seaver said...

I'm sorry, the "Media" button is on the "Edit Person" screen which I didn't show. I misspoke "tab" when I should have used "button."

In RootsMagic, you attach Media items to persons and then tag the event and/or source. I've shown the "Edit Person" screen many times in my blog posts, but i'll add one to the post for completeness.

Geolover said...

Thank you for the clarification, Randy.

The two images after "2) Here is the "Media" tab view for Ephraim Sawtell" are Ancestry Member Tree pages. There is no "media" tab or button in the AMT "Edit Person" page.

The "Media" button you meant was in your RootsMagic6 page for the person.

You had not mentioned working from RootsMagic at the beginning of the description of this task. You do not mention going to RootsMagic until step 5, attaching image in RM6 database.

It would be helpful to mention what program and page within it you are working from for each action, if not obvious from the illustrations.

Edward Black said...

Geolover, looks like you missed the reference to RootsMagic in Step 2. "I wanted to save the first Accepted Hint above so I clicked on it (I had already attached it to Ephraim Sawtell in my Ancestry Member Tree) so that I could save it to my computer and add it to my Media for Ephraim Sawtell in my RootsMagic database."

Geolover said...

Edward, I did not miss Randy's statement of his objective, which he gets to in step 5.

What is missing from what you quote is a following sentence as to method, such as "Opening my RootsMagic6 tree with Ephraim Sawtell, and going to his Edit page . . . ." which could have been accompanied by a screenshot that would have made Randy's narrative clearer.

Unknown said...

Thank You for the some clarity on sourcing the Mass. V. R. Collection. I don't use Roots Magic but I was getting frustrated on how I wanted this source and citation to look. Just one more thing should Delene and Jay Holbrook be included in the citation? Any way I like the way yours looks and the most important thing how do I find it again. By the way I grew up with a lot of Sartelle's in Pepperell I was born in Groton Thanks again

Rob Young