Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Evolution of Obtaining Genealogy Record Images

I was pondering this yesterday (or was I mulling?  Only J. Mark Lowe can tell!) based on over 32 years of doing genealogy research.

Back in 1993, when I was visiting Trowbridge in Wiltshire, I was unable to find out where I could see the Hilperton parish records of the marriage of my 3rd great-grandparents, John Richman (1789-1867) and Ann Marshman (1784-1856).  I figured that they were at the church in Hilperton in the parish chest, or at someone's home for safekeeping.  I did find a typed list of the records and copied down the names and date.

Some time in the 1990s, I found that FamilySearch had a microfilm of the Hilperton church Bishop's Transcripts (not the Parish Register).  I ordered the film, found the record, and used the handy microfilm printer that produced a "smelly slickie" print.  I thought that was great.  Now I had an image of the record.  I love new technology!  Note: I don't have this "smelly slickie" copy any more for some reason!

Time and technology change, and by 2010 I'm going to the Family History Library every year and I want a digital copy of the Bishop Transcript entry.  So I found the microfilm at the FHL, found the record, and set it up on the microfilm printer (a second machine) and made a paper copy.  In 2013, I did that again and made a digital copy using the microfilm machine that interfaced with my USB drive.  Here it is:

But that is not the "Original Source" record, is it?  It's a "Derivative Source" because a curate or a transcriber transferred the information to a sheet of paper that was sent to form the Bishop's Transcripts for the given year. now has the Hilperton Parish Registers record in their "Wiltshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1916" record collection.  I can access these records at home on my account, and can download the record image to my computer, and save it in the file folder for documents of the John Richman and Ann Marshman family in my Richman family folder.

There are actually two records for this marriage.  The first is the Banns record:

The Banns are the 4th record on the image above.  They announced that they would be married on 3 February, 10 February and 17 February 1811.

The actual Marriage record is on another image:

The Richman-Marshman marriage is the 4th one on the image above.  They were married on 28 February 1811 in Hilperton, by J. Bailes, the curate.

So now I have a digital copy of the original parish register record for the marriage of my third great-grandparents.

Interestingly, this Parish Register record is available only on  It is not on FamilySearch in a collection or on microfilm;  it is not on Findmypast (I do hope that it will be at some time - they just haven't got to Wiltshire yet);  it is not on MyHeritage, or any other online record provider, to my knowledge.

One more note:  Over the last 30 years, the time to find this record has decreased from months (going to Hilperton church and finding it, and transcribing it) to minutes (search on Ancestry and download the image).  The cost for one day of a full Ancestry subscription is about $1.10 per day, or $400 a year; the cost of going to Hilperton for a few days was over $1,000 or more (before the pandemic).

Here is the source citation for the Bishop's Transcript record on FamilySearch microfilm:

Church of England, Parish Church of Hilperton (Wiltshire, England), Bishop's Transcripts, 1622-1880, "Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, 1748-1812", Marriages: John Richman and Ann Marshman entry, 28 February 1811; accessed on FHL BRITISH microfilm 1,279,404. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The source citation for the Parish Register entry on

"Wiltshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1916," indexed database with record images, ( : accessed 29 April 2020), Hilperton > 1807-1812, image 51 of 64, John Richman and Ann Marshman marriage record, 28 February 1811; citing original records at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham, Wiltshire, England.


Disclosure:  I have a complimentary all-access subscription from, for which I am thankful. has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2020, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

No comments: