Monday, March 31, 2014

Good Sources Are Hard to Find

Cite that Source: a mini rant?

Aren't we supposed to be able to write a citation with a reference to the source that others can find? I am feeling grumpy. Here's why:

Recently, has made available the actual photographed pages of the 21 volumes of Arnold's Vital Records of Rhode Island.  I have been examining and comparing them to the ones that I can find at the online database at New England Historical and Genealogical Society that are "supposed" to be the same. I know this means that I am spending my valuable retirement time reviewing the same records instead of finding additional sources but in many cases, Rhode Island records were simply not kept. "Why", you ask? Well, because to record a vital record, folks in RI had to PAY a fee to have them recorded. Trust me, Rhode Islanders are cheap frugal and preferred to have food on the table and clothes on their backs. I really can't blame them but it sure is inconvenient for their descendants.

As I am a member of both NEHGS and, I selected my great grandparents, Nellie Scholfield and James  Frederick (known as J. Fred)Barber's marriage date of 20 January, 1890 to investigate. 

This record used to puzzle me as I thought James had always lived in Westerly but I found out that he was living in New Haven because he was working there as a "hair stylist" (read "barber") and confirmed that with a city directory of New Haven listing last year. A Barber being a barber is one of the reason why I no longer drink adult beverages.

Nellie and J. Fred's daughter, Hannah Josephine Barber was my maternal grandmother and a very special person in my life. She answered all my questions about family.

The photographed pages at are giving the same information but in a better format. I can actually write a citation now instead of wondering what the cryptic information at NEHGS gives me. Cryptic? Keep reading....

The record at NEHGS says "Marriage (Vol. Unknown) Original Volume & page: pg. 101943) Westerly, RI." when click on this resource gives me no real page number or page heading. It gives a link to "Westerly" which brings up Christ Church, but it doesn't tell me if that is exactly where they were married or any real assurance that I am looking at the records of that exact church.

It DOES give both bride and groom's parents first names with last surnames as initials and ages of the bride and groom at marriage. (I wish all my records could include the parents names, don't you?)

The page is page #39 of Section #1 Marriages whose chapter heading is on page 1 (image 47) in Vol. 11: Church Records, Member Lists, Baptisms. Confirmations, Births, Marriage and Deaths. The volume pages are confusing because the index is at the beginning of the book instead of the end. This is a crop of the Christ Church contents and pages. I am keeping this on my desk because as a person whose family was from Westerly, I have a LOT of other mysterious dates to look up. 

Contents (pages Vii-Viii)
I am sorry to say that the NEHGS reference of page 101943 is something that I can't seem to rectify. Can you?

End of rant.


Charles Hansen said...

Could it be a date? 10 of 1943

Midge Frazel said...

I think it is a image number of the page in the entire 21 volumes. Still working on other people so I can prove what that is...