Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Crowd-Sourcing Works Again! Finding Elizabeth Dill's Birth Record in Eastham, Massachusetts Records

I posted Searching for Elizabeth Dill's Birth Record in Eastham, Massachusetts Records yesterday, lamenting that the FamilySearch global search found a birth record for my ancestor Elizabeth Dill (1791-1869), but I couldn't find it in the FamilySearch collection for Massachusetts, Town clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001, in Barnstable County, and in either Eastham or Orleans town records (because some Eastham records are in Orleans record books).  

Reader Geolover noted in a comment:  

"The cataloging for this is certainly confusing. Note that the collection title for Elizabeth's entries does not match what is in the catalog.  In the person-detail page for the 2nd entry for Elizabeth is a different microfilm number: 779025, for 'items 2-6'.

"The Catalog entry for this microfilm is here. Not really more helpful, but this could be where the entry is - in the 'part index' mentioned at the top of the web page.

This comment eventually led to finding the birth record of Elizabath Dill in 1791.  

When I found the indexed birth record I showed yesterday, I used the global search on FamilySearch which found the indexed birth entry in Indexing Project C50246-3.  The indexed birth record entry indicated only GS Microfilm 907350 as a resource.  

When I first read Geolover's comment, it didn't make sense.  There was no "2nd entry" on the indexed birth record entry that I showed.

Then I realized that perhaps Geolover had searched the International Genealogical Index (IGI), rather than doing a global search on the Search page.  I selected the IGI collection, and sure enough, there was more information on the birth record entry!  Here is a screen shot of the IGI collection entry:

The information for the Indexing Project Batch Number C50246-3 indicates three different GS Film Number items:

*  907350 IT 1
*  907350 IT 2-6
*  779025

I did not recall searching the collection for GS Film 779025, since the earlier record indicated Film Number 907350 only.  The FHL Catalog description for Film number 779025 says:

"Births, marriages and intentions, deaths, and town records, 1708-1915" [for Eastham]

I browsed through the pages (jumping 20 images at a time to find family birth records) and finally found what I was looking for on image 204 of 399:

The list of children of Thomas and Hannah (Horton) Dill is on the left-hand page at the top.  Cool - now I can correct the source citation for Elizabeth's birth record, and those for her siblings also, in my database and attach the image above to Elizabeth.  

My experience in Massachusetts town and vital records is that one type of records, say births, are often spread through different record "books," and those record books may not be titled correctly.  

The FamilySearch Indexing Projects seem to have worked with several different "books," but the record summary I found for Elizabeth in the global search did not fully represent all of the resources used in the Indexing Project.  The search I did in the IGI collection showed the three different microfilm resources.  

Interestingly, I did not find the specific record "book" on the list of Ancestry "books" listed under Orleans (which included many "books" for Orleans and Eastham).  There were no "books" listed for Eastham only.  Apparently, the specific record "book" above was not on the microfiche set that Ancestry.com digitized and indexed for their Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 database.  

One lesson learned here is that Ancestry.com does not have every record, and not every record is indexed.  I knew that, but others might not.

A second lesson learned is that FamilySearch has different records than Ancestry, even though the collection title is about the same, but many of their collections are not indexed.  I knew that this record existed, because it was in a FamilySearch indexed database.  But it was a pain to find because FamilySearch did not completely describe the Indexing Project resources used to compile the database.  

Another lesson learned (again) is that I need to be more patient and persistent.  Faced with hundreds of pages in a "book," I tend to jump around trying to find an index or the start of a record set in a "book."  

A fourth lesson learned is that scrolling page by page in an online database is more difficult than using microfilm, because I cannot read everything on a page on my computer screen.  I have to zoom in, drag up and down, or right and left, etc.  It's more "work" to read.  However, it is more convenient to use at home rather than at the FHL or FSL, it's less costly to access digitized records online, and I can save an image to my computer directly at home and online.  

Some readers have noted that I often try to solve one of my research problems by writing about it, in hopes that someone will think about the problem, perhaps do a check on resources, and tell me about it in a comment.  The readers are right - I'm not perfect (impatient too!), I miss details sometimes, and a reader might have more knowledge or experience than I do.  In this case - it worked!  Geolover found a clue and passed it on, and I was able to follow up and solve my problem.  Thank you again, Geolover!!

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Diane Gould Hall said...

Great post Randy. More lessons learned. I will make note of everything you've said here so that I will also learn. I have used the Massachusetts vital records on many occasions. One thing I've discovered about writing a blog is that it has helped my research. So, yes, sometimes we do write in order to share with our readers what we may be having problems with. If one of the readers has more experience I, like you, welcome the input.

Diane B said...

Randy your comment about the Massachusetts town record books and the random nature of their labels, numbers and titles is SO TRUE. I like how you tried presumably multiple sets of what most people would assume were the same thing. Good lessons here for all of us. Very happy you found what you were looking for!

Legacy Tree said...

Crowdsourcing genealogy is so great. Thanks for going through your process and posting so we can all learn. (Jessica Taylor)

Geolover said...

Randy, I am glad you had good results.

I did not search the IGI specifically. I searched Historical Records for Elizabath Dill, exactly Massachusetts and exactly 1791.

This yielded results including two for the 1791 entry, and I just looked at the "detail" pages for each one -- one of which had the alternative microfilm number.

Oddly, both "detail" pages stated that an image was not available.

The same incorrect information as to lack of image also occurs in the database for Pennsylvania County Marriages. But if one then searches by using microfilm numbers, one can reach a place to open an image.

There really are a lot of things to fix in this revised on-line FHL catalog.

JimLad said...

I have a logical mind and so like doing SuDoKo puzzles. This constant exercise in logic (it really is nothing to do with mathematics) has taught me to look for different ways of finding information, and has been especially handy for me in the IGI. For instance, if I can find only one entry for a person and know or suspect he/she has siblings, then I search by parent (if I have that info), and usually find what I am looking for. Another tip is searching for the middle name and surname, sometiomes the person went by that name in daily life instead of the given name. Also, in the IGI, searching by just surname and a reference number (such as block, census or document) will produce many results which can then be further refined. If you can't go straight through, try going over, under or around!!!

Jan Murphy said...

Whenever I see the indexes which have no image available online, I remind myself that the indexers who created that original batch must have looked at SOMETHING. So I ask: what did they look at when they created this record? I agree with you, Randy -- finding out what the original was it isn't always straightforward.