Sunday, February 23, 2014

Help Index Cook Death Certificates, 1959-1994


I haven't done any FamilySearch indexing for a while--just too busy with other things--but my husband and I are getting ready for the Wilmette Family History Center's Family History Fair coming up on March 22, and so I logged in this morning to see what's changed since I last helped out. (The plan is to set up computers so that the youth who attend the Fair can give indexing a try.)

I was surprised and thrilled to find that Cook County death certificates were listed as one of the current indexing projects. I immediately downloaded a batch and went to work!

The batch was from May of 1963 and my job was to extract detailed information from the easy-to-read certificate and type it into the form--everything from the obvious name, death date, death place, to occupation, birth and parent information, to informant, to cemetery name and funeral home. It's going to be a very useful index.

I immediately posted a note on the Chicago Genealogy Facebook page--perfect way for Chicago researchers to give back--and realized that there was a need for some detailed instructions on how to participate. Step-by-step instructions are below.

If you'd like to know more about the project, check out the Project Page. It describes the project and includes sample images.

If you decide to lend a hand, post a comment and let blog readers know about your experience.

How to Get Started Indexing Cook County Death Certificates at FamilySearch


1) Go to the Get Started with Indexing page.

2) Download and install the software. (It's pretty quick and easy.)

















3) Find the icon on your desk top and click to open it.












4) Sign into FamilySearch or register for a new account.














5) You might see a white screen for a few seconds. Just be patient and the indexing dashboard will load.

6) Click on the "Download Batch" button, click on "Show all projects," and scroll to find "US, Illinois Cook County--Deaths."

7) Make sure "US, Illinois Cook County--Deaths" is highlighted, select the number of batches you want to download, and click "Okay."










8) From there, read the directions carefully, and start typing.

If you haven't indexed before, there's one thing you should know. Information from every batch is extracted by two people and then it goes to an arbitrator who reviews any discrepancies to make the final call. Index carefully, yes, but don't sweat over something that you're not quite sure about. Just do your best and it will be plenty good enough.








Friday, February 07, 2014

Why Does the FamilySearch Death Index Have Duplicate Entries?

Have you noticed that some people are listed twice in FamilySearch's Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922 index, sometimes with slightly different information or spellings? Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever wondered which record to go after? Or whether you should go after them both? In this post, I'll tell you what I know about the duplicate entries and the corresponding death records.


Let's use Charlotte Klug as an example. If I search for her name in the index two matches come up. The first entry leads to certificate #5805 on film number 1239830. The second entry leads to MF 73350-1 p 8967 on film 1239813.

If you search the two film numbers in the Family History Library Catalog, you'll see that they're from the same series: Chicago Death Certificates, 1878-1915.

From 1908-1915, many individuals who died in Chicago will have two death certificates on two different films from this series.

The record from the first entry can be found on a film using a register number that can also be found on a microfilm index called Index to Deaths in the City of Chicago During the Years 1871 to 1933: Showing Name, Address and Date of Death. These numbers appear to group the records together by the date they were recorded. Surnames beginning with all letters of the alphabet are mixed together. I'll call this the "register number record" or RNR.

The record for the second entry can be found on a film using a certificate number that's also available from the Illinois Statewide Death Index. These records are organized by the certificate number on the films and the numbers group them together by month by the first letter of the surname. In other words, all of the "K" records for March, 1909 would be a sequential group. I'm going to call this the "certificate number records" or CNR.

So, what's the difference between the two records? Let's look at the CNR for Charlotte first. Notice that it's written in two hands. The top was probably filled in by the undertaker and the bottom was likely filled in by the physician.



Now look at the RNC. The handwriting, including the signatures, is all the same.



I believe the CNR is the original record and I think the RNR is probably a copy made by someone at the Cook County Clerk's Office.

So, how did the recording process work? I don't know for sure, but I can guess, based on what I know about other Cook County Clerk's Office records.

In this case, I think the CNR was filled out by the undertaker, physician, and/or coroner, and returned to the  County Clerk's Office. Then I think a copy was made by hand on a blank form and I think both were assigned a register number based on the order that the original was received and entered.

The copies were kept in register order number and eventually the originals were grouped by the first letter of the surname within the month and assigned certificate numbers. There's a third number stamped on top of the original records, but I don't know what the significance of it is.

I've compared duplicate records from other years, but I haven't done a systematic study. In some years, the two records look the same at quick glance but there are usually very subtle differences in the writing. In those cases, I think the undertaker and physician created two record at the same time and submitted both to the clerk's office.

So, which record should you search for if you find duplicate entries in the index? I think it's best to search for the CNR -- the one that seems to be the original.

But how can tell which is which? Easy. Find the matching entry in the Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre-1916 and use the certificate number listed there to choose the matching entry in the FamilySearch index.


If you live in the Chicago area, the Wilmette Family History Center has all of the CNR films and many of the RNR films. If you don't, you can access the reels at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, order in the film at your local Family History Center, or just ask me to retrieve the record. I charge $6/search and if the local FHC has both reels, I'm happy to provide copies of both records for the same fee. I also offer small discounts for 3 or more requests submitted at the same time.





Friday, December 13, 2013

Guide to Online Birth Indexes for Cook County: Which Ones to Use When (with links)

Handy Links to the Indexes Mentioned in this Post

Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915 (FamilySearch)
Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 (FamilySearch)
Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 (Ancestry)
Cook County, Illinois Birth Index, 1916-1935 (Ancestry)
Historical Cook County Illinois Vital Records (Cook County Clerk)


This is the last of a series of three posts focusing on the Chicago and Cook County vital records indexes that are available online. In this article, I'll give you links to the Cook County birth indexes that I use regularly and summarize their strengths and limitations to help you decide which one(s) will work best for your search.

Once you've found an index entry, the records can be obtained from a number of different places but the rule of thumb is this:
  • get records from 1923 forward from the the Cook County Clerk's Office ($15 + a handling fee if you buy the records online at www.cookcountygenealogy.com)

  • get records from 1871-1922 from Family History Library microfilm (the cost of a photocopy if you have local access to the films; $7.50 if you need to order a film from the FamilySearch catalog and have it sent to your local Family History Center);  or from me through Genlighten ($6.00 each with quick turnaround; discounts for batch orders)

Cook County Birth Registers, 1871-1915 (FamilySearch)


Quick Advice: Use this index if you're looking for births from 1871-1877. The birth register pages are the only records that are available for this time period (no certificates before 1878). Be aware that many of the entries lack given name(s) for the child so you might need to search on parent names.

If you're looking for records from 1878 forward, search the Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 first. It leads to certificates. If you can't find a match there, then check this index because names might be transcribed differently. If you find a match in this index, the birth register number can be used to find the certificate.

Strengths: 
  • can be searched using combinations of child's name, parent names, gender, race, birth year range, and parent birth places
  • * can be used as a wildcard
  • search results show birth dates and parent names
  • entries provide FamilySearch film numbers
  • the Reference IDs provide volume and page numbers needed to find matching entries
Limitations:
  • reference IDs are inconsistent (some provide volume and page; some provide page and line number)
  • in most cases you'll have to look at the register page to get the certificate number needed to find the matching birth certificate (1878 forward)
  • if a name is misspelled, especially the first few letters, it might be hard to bring up the matching entry
Additional Information: It seems likely that birth information was copied from certificates onto the register pages in the order that the clerk's office received them and that certificate numbers were assigned based on the line numbers in the register. If you have a choice, get a copy of the birth certificate rather than the register pages.

Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922 (FamilySearch)


Quick Advice: Start with this index. If you don't find a match for a child, search parent names instead. If you still can't find a match for births up through 1915, try searching the birth register index linked above.

Strengths: 
  • can be searched using combinations of  child's name, parent names, gender, birth year range, and parent birth places
  • * can be used as a wildcard
  • search results show birth dates and parent names
  • entries provide FamilySearch film numbers and certificate numbers (Reference ID)
Limitations:
  • if a name is misspelled, especially the first few letters, it might be hard to bring up the matching entry

Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922 (Ancestry)


Quick Advice: This index overlaps the two FamilySearch indexes listed above and it doesn't provide certificate numbers or distinguish between birth register entries and birth certificate entries. It's best to use the FamilySearch indexes first.

Strengths:
  • combines the two FamilySearch indexes listed above
  • entries include FamilySearch film numbers
  • entries can be saved to Ancestry trees
Limitations:
  • entries don't include certificate numbers
  • searches bring up entries for birth register pages and birth certificates; the only way to tell them apart is to check film numbers in the Family History Library Catalog or to find matching index entries at FamilySearch
  • no links available for purchasing the matching records through the county clerk's website

Cook County, Illinois Birth Index, 1916-1935 (Ancestry)


Quick advice: Use this index if you need records from 1923 forward or if you are planning to purchase records from 1916-1922 from the County instead of getting them from FamilySearch films.

Strengths:
  • can be searched using the child's name and birthdate
  • provides file (certificate) numbers
  • provides links to purchase records online from the Cook County Clerk's website
Limitations:
  • database doesn't include parents which limits search possibilities and makes it hard to find matches for common names
  • doesn't provide film number for the records from 1916-1922 that can be obtained from FamilySearch films

cookcountygenealogy.com (Cook County Clerk)


Quick advice: The search capability on this site seems to be limited to exact spellings within a year range. Create a free account on this site but use the 1916-1935 index at Ancestry.com to search (see above). This approach offers more flexibility and lets you easily click through to purchase and download records from this site. 

Strengths:
  • search results include children's names and birth dates
  • database includes records 75 years and older
  • records are available for immediate purchase and download
Limitations:
  • must create an account and log in before searching
  • can only be searched using exact spellings
  • searches can only be limited by a date range
  • doesn't include early birth records and may not include recently-released records
  • database doesn't include parents which limits search possibilities and makes it hard to find matches for common names
Additional Information: Birth certificates are available if they are 75 year or older but the online collection is, to the best of my knowledge, incomplete. If you can't find what you need online, you can mail in a search request using the Genealogy Record Request Form.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guide to Online Marriage Indexes for Cook County: Which Ones to Use When (with links)

Handy Links to the Indexes Mentioned in this Post

Cook County, Illinois, Marriage and Death Indexes, 1833-1889 (Ancestry)
Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 (Illinois Secretary of State)
Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920 (FamilySearch)
Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 (Ancestry)
Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 (Ancestry)
Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 (Ancestry)
Historical Cook County Illinois Vital Records (Cook County Clerk)


This is the second in a series of three posts focusing on the Chicago and Cook County vital records indexes that are available online. In this article, I'll give you links to the Cook County marriage indexes that I use regularly and summarize their strengths and limitations to help you decide which one(s) will work best for your search.

Once you've found an index entry, the records can be obtained from a number of different places but the rule of thumb is this:
  • get records from 1921 forward from the the Cook County Clerk's Office ($15 + a handling fee if you buy the records online at www.cookcountygenealogy.com)

  • get records up through 1916 from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository at Northeastern Illinois University (reimburse IRAD for the copy costs; you can visit in person or submit requests by telephone); from Family History Library microfilm (the cost of a photocopy if you have local access to the films; $7.50 if you need to order a film from the FamilySearch catalog and have it sent to your local Family History Center);  or from me through Genlighten ($6.00 each with quick turnaround; discounts for batch orders)

  • get records from 1917-1920 from Family History Library microfilm (see above)

  • get the 1833-1871 newspaper notices/articles mentioned in Sam Fink's Index from an online Chicago Tribune source if the code is * or from a repository that holds newspapers for any of the other codes

Cook County, Illinois, Marriage and Death Indexes, 1833-1889 (Ancestry.com)


Quick Advice: This is actually a newspaper index known as "Sam Fink's." Use it when you want to find mention of pre-fire marriages, 1833-1871, in newspapers. To learn more about this index, refer to my "Sam Fink's Marriage-Death Index Available on Ancestry" post.

Strengths:
  • can be search by bride and/or groom name
  • can be searched by marriage date
  • page images can browsed
  • index page images include the newspaper title symbols needed for finding the matching articles
Limitations:
  • must have a key to the newspaper title symbols in order to follow up (see below)
  • entries for marriages appear twice because the marriage index appears twice on the film
Newspaper Key (for marriages and deaths):

Chicago Tribune *
Chicago Times %
Chicago Evening Journal $
Chicago Democrat #
Chicago Democratic Press #
Chicago Evening Post ?
Chicago Record-Herald "
Chicago Daily News @
Chicago Examiner [cent sign]
The Inter-Ocean :

Additional Information: These index entries are included in the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 with FINK in the license number column but that index doesn't provide the newspaper codes so it's best to use the one at Ancestry. The marriages in this index end in 1871; it's the death entries that go through 1889.

Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 (Illinois Secretary of State)


Quick advice: The entries in this index are covered by Sam Fink's Index (see above) and the Illinois Cook County Marriage Index, 1871-1920 (see below). Use this index when you need to locate or confirm a license number for a record found in the FamilySearch Index or when you think the marriage might have taken place outside Cook County.

Strengths:
  • includes entries for other Illinois counties
  • may include spellings different than the FamilySearch Index
Limitations:
  • doesn't provide newspaper codes for the Fink entries
  • if you find matches up through 1900, it takes an extra step to find the corresponding FamilySearch microfilm numbers

Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920 (FamilySearch)


Quick advice: Use this index first if you're looking for marriages for 1871-1920. 

Strengths:
  • can be searched by bride or groom or by bride and groom using the spouse field
  • can limit search results by approximate birth year
  • provides ages for bride and groom
  • provides FamilySearch film numbers as "Reference ID"
Limitations:
  • the search form offers birth place and parent name options but the information isn't in the index so you'll get no results if you use those fields
  • some index entries don't include license numbers; you can get them up through 1900 from the Illinois Secretary of State index listed above

Quick advice: This index overlaps the FamilySearch index listed above. 

Strengths:
  • easy to search
  • can save results to an Ancestry.com tree
Limitations:
  • lists film numbers but doesn't provide the license numbers needed to find the records on film

Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 (Ancestry.com)


Quick advice: Use this index when you need to find marriages from 1921-1942. If you find a match for 1930 forward, go to cookcountygenealogy.com to purchase and download the matching record. If you find a match for 1921-1929, try the county site but know that you will probably need to mail a Genealogy Record Request Form to get a copy. If you are looking for a 1912-1920 record, use the FamilySearch Index if you plan to get the record from FamilySearch microfilm.

Strengths:
  • can be searched using combinations of names and dates
  • index entries are linked to an index page that can be attached to an Ancestry.com tree
  • entries include the spouse name on the same line as the indexed person
  • search is more flexible than the one at cookcountygenealogy.com
Limitations:
  • doesn't provide FamilySearch film numbers
  • doesn't provide a quick link for getting the record from Cook County

Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 (Ancestry.com)


Quick advice: Use this index when you need to find marriages from 1930-1960. If you find a match, click through to purchase and download the matching record from cookcountygenealogy.com.

Strengths:
  • can be searched using combinations of names and dates
  • index entries can be attached to an Ancestry.com tree
  • entries include the spouse name
  • search is more flexible than the one at cookcountygenealogy.com
  • if you find a match, you can click through to purchase and download the matching record from cookcountygenealogy.com; the item will appear in your cart after you log in
Limitations:
  • few, if any

cookcountygenealogy.com (Cook County Clerk)


Quick advice: The search capability on this site seems to be limited to exact spellings within a year range. Create a free account on this site but use the 1930-1960 index at Ancestry.com to search it (see above). It offers more flexibility and you can easily click through to purchase and download records from this site. 

Strengths:
  • records are available for immediate purchase and download
  • entries provide spouse names, license numbers, and event dates
Limitations:
  • must create an account and log in before searching
  • can only be searched using exact spellings
  • searches can only be limited by a date range
  • doesn't appear to include marriages before c. 1930
Additional Information: Marriage licenses are available if they are 20 years or older but the online collection is, to the best of my knowledge, incomplete. If you can't find what you need online, you can mail in a search request using the Genealogy Record Request Form.










Friday, October 18, 2013

Guide to Online Death Indexes for Chicago: Which Ones to Use When (with links)


Handy Links to the Indexes Mentioned in this Post
Illinois, Cook County Death Certificates, 1878-1922 (FamilySearch)
Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947 (FamilySearch)
Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre-1916 (Illinois Secretary of State)
Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1947 (Illinois Secretary of State)
Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 (Ancestry)
Cook County Genealogy, Certificates 20 Years or Older (Cook County Clerk)

If you're searching for Chicago and Cook County death records, there are a number of overlapping online indexes to choose from. In this post, I'll give you links to the indexes I use regularly and summarize their strengths and limitations to help you decide which one(s) will work best for your search.

Once you've found an index entry, the records can be obtained from a number of different places but the rule of thumb is this:
  • get records from 1948 forward from the county or state ($17 + a handling fee if you buy the records online at www.cookcountygenealogy.com)
  • get records up through 1947 from microfilm available through Family History Centers or in Springfield (the cost of a photocopy if you have local access to the films; $7.50 if you need to order a film from the FamilySearch catalog and have it sent to your local Family History Center; $6.00 + a $.50 handling fee if you get them from me through Genlighten).

Illinois, Cook County Death Certificates, 1878-1922 (FamilySearch)

Quick advice: If you're going to get records from microfilm, use this index for searches up through 1915. If you don't find a match, search the Pre-1916 Illinois Statewide Death Index. If you still can't find a match, email me through chicagogenealogy.com. I can check an alternate index on film and sometimes that helps. If you're searching for records 1916-1922, use the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947 first. It's mentioned below.

Strengths:
  • includes extracted information like birth date, birth place, occupation and place of burial and, after 1907, parent, spouse, and/or informant name
  • allows multi-field searching on fields such as parent and spouse
  • gives Family History Library film numbers which makes it easy to retrieve the records
  • can be attached as a source to a FamilySearch tree
  • an be used to distinguish between people who have the same name using the extracted information
Limitations: 
  • doesn't index coroner's death certificates up through 1911
  • when name are spelled in unexpected ways or transcribed wrong, it can be tough to find them
  • certificate numbers usually appear in the index as "cn 00000" listed under "Reference ID" but early certificates can have two or three numbers on top; if indexers choose the non-sequential number it can't be used to find the record in microfilm (but there are ways around that)
  • unless you've bookmarked the search page, it takes time to click through to find it
Something You Should Know:

From 1908-1915 there are two sets of Chicago records included in the microfilmed series and this index includes both. It's common to find two entries for the same person with two different film numbers leading to two different records. The information should be the same but one record will likely be an original and one will likely be a handwritten copy. I will share more about this in another blog post.

Quick advice: If you're going to get records from microfilm, use this index first. If you can't find the name you're looking for, try any of the other indexes that cover the same years. If you can't find a name from 1916-1933 in any online index, email me through chicagogenealogy.com. I can check an alternate index on film and sometimes that helps. 

Strengths:
  • can be searched using parent and spouse names
  • can be searched using birth place and a span of birth years
  • often includes extracted information such as birth place, birth date, parent names, spouse name, occupation, cemetery name
  • provides film number that can be used to find the record
  • can be attached as a source to a FamilySearch tree
  • because it has extracted information, it can be used to distinguish between people who have the same name
  • includes deaths from all Illinois counties
  • includes stillbirths
Limitations:
  • when name are spelled in unexpected ways or transcribed wrong, it can be tough to find them
  • sometimes the certificate numbers aren't the ones that lead to the records on film, but in those cases the correct numbers can be found using another index
  • unless you've bookmarked the search page, it takes time to click through to find it


Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre-1916 (Illinois Secretary of State)

Quick advice: This was the go-to index for years and it's still good. If you can't find a name here, try other indexes or try accessing it with Stephen Morse's One Step search page. If you're planning to get the matching records from microfilm, copy the entire index entry. You'll need the full death date and place ("Chicago" is different from "Cook County." If you're going to order film through a Family History Center, don't use the catalog to find the film number. Without going into a complex explanation, let me just say that in many cases it won't work. Use the FamilySearch death index (linked above) instead.

Strengths:
  • includes names not found in the FamilySearch index, including individuals who had coroner's death certificates
  • if the certificate is hard to read, the name is more likely to be spelled correctly in this index than in the index at FamilySearch
  • certificate numbers are accurate
Limitations:
  • can only be searched by name unless you access it with Stephen Morse's One Step search page
  • unless you use a key like the one I created for Wilmette Family History Center patrons, choosing a film from the Family History Library catalog is a guessing game and it's easy to get it wrong


Illinois Statewide Death Index, 1916-1947 (Illinois Secretary of State)

Strengths: 
  • index entries can be used to easily find records on film
  • includes deaths from all Illinois counties
Limitations:


Cook County, Illinois Death Index, 1908-1988 (Ancestry.com)

Quick advice: If you want to pull up a list of deaths that happened on a certain day or if you're looking for death records from 1948-1988, this is the index to use. If you find records before 1948 and you don't need instant access, get them from film; it's much less expensive. For records after that, just click through to www.cookcountygenealogy.com, pay the fee, and do the download.

Strengths:
  • allows you to search by date of death with or without a name
  • provides certificate number that can be used to find the record on microfilm
  • index entry can be attached to Ancestry.com trees
  • a "Purchase from Cook County" link will take you to a page where you can purchase record images online for immediate download
Limitations:
  • index information limited to name, death date, and certificate number
  • it's a subscription site (but you should be able to get free access through a library or FamilyHistory Center)
Something you should know: 

The rollover text for the "Purchase from Cook County" link says "images and original certificates are only available through the Cook County Clerk's office and clicking will take you to www.cookcountygenealogy.com where they can be purchased for download for $17 + a $1.75  cart handling fee. For records from 1948 forward, this is true, but records up through 1947 can be printed from microfilm available through FamilySearch or the Illinois State Archives in Springfield for the cost of a photocopy.


Cook County Genealogy, Certificates 20 Years or Older (Cook County Clerk)

Quick advice: Start here if you need records from 1948 forward. If you find index matches, click through and purchase the records online. If you don't, check the index at Ancestry.com. If you can't find the record for download here, you can mail in a search request to the county clerk or you can ask Genlighten's provider mollykennedy for help. She has access to later Illinois death certificates in Springfield and she will do her absolute best, even submitting multiple requests, to have the clerks find what you need.

Strengths:
  • matching records can be purchased and downloaded immediately
Limitations:
  • can only be searched using exact name spellings and a year range
  • only provides name, death date, and certificate number










Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Find EDs using alookatcook.com

I'm writing this post as a quick response to a Chicago Genealogy Facebook page question about how to use an address to determine a 1920 Census ED using the maps found on alookatcook.com.

1) Find the address using Google Maps. I'm going to try 2711 Hillock.

2) Once you've found the address, note the large cross streets. In this case, the canal/river is prominent and I notice that the address is southwest of the curve.

3) Go to alookatcook.com and click on the 1920 Ward map.

4) Notice how prominent the canal is. Based on the Google map, I guess that the address is part or the 4th ward so I click on the number 4 to see the map of EDs within the ward.

5) Going back to the Google map, I look for large streets and try to find them on the ED map.

I see that the address is west of Halsted and south of Cermak. Does that help?

Yes. I see Halsted on the ED map so that narrows down the eastern border.

6) I go back to the Google map and look for other streets close to the address. I see names like Throop, Grove, Loomis, Lock, Poplar.

7) I go back to the ED map and try to find those streets.

I see that Throop and Loomis are boundaries for some EDs and I notice that the river, Archer, Lyman, and 31st are the north/south boundaries.

8) I go back to the Google map to find the Archer, Lyman, etc. and finally I'm able to say that my address looks like it's south of the river and north of Archiver between Throop and Loomis.

9) ED 218 is a good guess so from there, I go to Ancestry.com (or another site with the census) and scroll through looking for the Hillock address. Most times when I do that I refer back to the map(s), and I can often tell the path that the enumerator was taking. It can help me to guess whether I need to look at the beginning, middle, or end of the image set.

Hope that helps! It's not an easy process--lots of trial and error--but it does work.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Requesting Images from FamilySearch's Photoduplication Services

In a previous post, Some Images No Longer Available on FamilySearch, I noted that the FamilySearch Wiki article on Illinois, Cook County Death Records mentioned that digital images could be obtained through FamilySearch's Photoduplication Services. In order to be able to better answer questions about the service, I decided to try it myself.

Submitting the Test Request
On January 29, I sent an email asking for a copy of a New York City church baptismal record for Sarah Catherine Trafford. She appears on my husband's family tree and it was a record that we sincerely wanted. I provided a link to the FamilySearch index entry and included the index information. I also provided my name, address, telephone number, and email address, as requested.

Reply to the Test Request
Today I received an email with the subject "You have received a file from photoduplication Shared." It included a link, good for 14 days, that I could use to download the file. Clicking on it took me to a page that let me download a zip file.














The zip file contained two files -- a jpg and a pdf, both of which were created on February 14. The jpg was large (2416 x 2966 pixels) and very readable. The pdf was a cover letter that told me the record was the "best copy available." It also gave me details on how to order additional records by email and wished me success.

Why I'll Continue to Order Films
So, in summary, I received a quality image by email for free in three weeks. Can't beat that! I'm grateful to the volunteer(s) at FamilySearch who retrieved the image and forward it to me, but I don't think I will use the service again. Why?

Well, for one thing, a new message has been added to the current Photoduplication Services FamilySearch Wiki page:






I have easy access to a Family History Center and so I can't justify asking someone else to obtain records for me. I'm pretty sure the image retrieval service wasn't meant to take the place of film ordering.

But there's more to it than that. Looking at the record that I got today, I saw an entry for Sarah Catherine Trafford, born to Abraham and Basilia, but two lines below I also saw an entry for an Abraham--an adult. I think Sarah's father might have been baptized a year and a half after she was born. It made me wonder if other family members might have appeared on the reel?

I also found myself wishing that I had a title page from whatever volume the page was from (I probably should have asked for it,  but I didn't think about it when I sent in my request) and it's likely that the baptism was just a one-page entry but some registers span two pages and I'd feel more comfortable if I had seen the register myself. I guess I'm just an independent sort at heart. : )

How This Relates to Chicago Record Retrieval
So, how does this relate to the Chicago vital records that were taken offline? It's an awkward question for me to answer in an unbiased way, but I'll try.

If you're not in a hurry for a record and you don't have access to a Family History Center, then I'd say it's a great way to go!

If you do have access to a Family History Center, then it's up to you to decide whether to use the service or to order in a film.

Where does my service fit in?
If you need a record in a hurry (I can visit the Family History Center on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday) or if you've decided, for whatever reason, not to use the free service, then I'm still here, ready to help. I'm planning to offer a discount on multiple-record orders going forward and I'll be updating my Genlighten.com offerings soon.