Monday, February 23, 2009

Researcher Finds Needle in the Haystack

I received an email from one of my clients and I think she’s come across a wonderful example of how powerful the Record Search pilot site is. With her permission, I will post her note here in a slightly edited form.

Thank you, Margie!



When the Chicago birth certificates became available [at] I pulled up everyone I could think of. I was looking for two sisters, Mabel and Joan Hayes.

I found Joan.

Baby not yet named
Second baby, two living
Father, Joseph Hayes, born in Pontiac Illinois, age 37, laborer
Mother Hannah Austgen Hayes, born in St. John, Indiana, age 31

I could not find Mabel. When I search for the name Austgen, I came up with

Mary *BROWN*
First baby, one living
Born December 29, 1910
Father, Joseph BROWN, born in Pontiac, Illinois, age 37, laborer
Mother, Hannah AUSTIN BROWN, born in Dyer, Illinois, age 29

Dyer is in Indiana, not Illinois, and is right next to St. John. The birth places of the parents matched so well!

This looked suspiciously like Mabel's birth certificate. Mabel's middle name could be Mary, her middle initial is M. I ordered the death certificates, and … guess what Mabel's birth date is: December 29, 1910! And on the death certificate, her father is born in Pontiac, her mother in St. John.

Can you believe it! It has the … wrong family name! I noticed it wasn't filed for more than a month after the birth. It’s like the doctor said, “What was that name? Something common? Oh, yeah, Brown.”

Funny thing, I NEVER would have thought of looking for the Hayes family under Brown!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chicago Births at Record Search: When the Index Doesn't Match the Record

My husband pointed me to a blog called "TransylvanianDutch" which mentions the Cook County birth records online at FamilySearch Record Search. The author spotlights a birth record that's indexed as "Clifford Paul Cruvant" but clearly says "Edward Cruvant" and asks "What was the indexer looking at?" He goes on to say, "I want to know what that document is, what other information I might expect to find on it, and where I can get a copy of it."

I think I can be of help here.

The indexer must have been looking at the Certificate of Correction which was filmed just after the original birth certificate. This correction form doesn't seem to be included with the linked records on the FamilySearch Record Search site but it is available on Family History Library Film 1288077. The Certificate of Correction is numbered the same as the birth record and it includes the child's name as it appears on the certificate, the corrected name, the birth date and address, and the name of the person who submitted the correction. I suspect it also includes the date the correction was made, but the bottom part of this particular record isn't readable.

In a similar instance, one of my clients found an index entry for a birth register page that included a father's name, but that information was covered by a piece of paper attached to the register page on the linked scan. (The paper was probably a birth certificate form or a correction.) On the film, though, the next image is of the same page with the paper lifted to show the information underneath.

Using the Family History Library Record Lookup Service

Have you heard about the Family History Library Record Lookup Service? It's a very convenient way to obtain digital copies of Chicago vi...