Thursday, December 6, 2007

Marriage Records Database

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I found a marriage on U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 on Ancestry which comes from Yates Publishing Co. Once while searching another line I discovered getting the document from them would cost something like $14. Do you have any way of finding the original source? I am so afraid it is going to be someone's family group sheet and that's not worth the cost.

Signed,
SRJ

Dear SRJ,

You've come to the right place. I have the goods on the aforesaid database. As you mentioned, the marriage records in this database were provided by Yates Publishing. Bill Yates founded Yates Publishing in 1972 and something called the Family Group Sheet Exchange (FGSE) in 1981. You can submit family group data for free and Yates Publishing sells it to others, thus providing you a valuable networking opportunity. (They say sarcasm is especially difficult to detect in the written word. Hmmm.) See the Yates Publishing website for a much longer, elegant way of explaining this.

The Yates database is based on the FGSE and, according to the Ancestry.com database description, "these records were extracted from family group sheets, electronic databases, biographies, wills, and other sources." One can contact Yates Publishing "for more information or to order an original Family Group Sheet [from] the FGSE." Unfortunately, the Ancestry database description gives the wrong contact information and no longer includes the instructions for obtaining source material from Yates. Don't worry. We'll explain how to do that before we're done.

Source Citation

As you mention, it would be great if one could decide before paying if the source materials were worth the cost. Fortunately, there is a way.

Often overlooked, underneath the information given in an Ancestry search result from any database is a section titled "Source Citation" that gives information for locating that particular record or result in Ancestry's database or the original source. An example from the Yates database looks like this.

A result from the Yates Database
An example showing a source citation

The source citation in this example is

Source Citation: Source number: 1345.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: GCH.

You'll want to look first at the source type to determine if the cost is worthwhile. The different types are shown in the table below. (Subscribers can click on "Example" to see an example of each source type.)

Electronic Database

Example

Family group sheet, FGSE, listed as parents

Example

Pedigree chart

Example

Family group sheet, listed as a child

Example

Family group sheet (from "Gleanings"), listed as parents

Example

Correspondence file (significant amount)

Example

Correspondence file

Example

Manuscript (significant amount)

Example

Genealogy book

Example

Manuscript

Example

Family group sheet (from "Gleanings")

Example

Lineage chart

Example

Will

Example

Subject of a biographical sketch

Example

Family or bible record (significant amount)

Example

Genealogy book (significant amount)

Example

Article

Example

Family or bible record

Example

Lineage chart (significant amount)

Example

Will, made by one of spouses

Example

Article (significant amount)

Example

Mentioned in a biographical sketch

Example

Query (significant amount)

Example

Pedigree chart (significant amount)

Example


I've listed the types in order, from most common to least common. Note that many types are repeated with the notation, "significant amount." Use this and the page count to further judge how valuable the source material might be.

One nice feature of the search form for this Ancestry database is that the Keyword field also searches the source type. With the exact search box checked and "significant" typed in the keyword field, your search will only return results if there is a significant amount of source material for the result.

Finding the Submitter

Yates Publishing has also put the database on the web as The Computerized Ancestor where one can access it for free. Bill Yates told me that the index on the Computerized Ancestor is more current than the one on Ancestry. And as of the publication date of this article one can use this database to find contact information for the submitter of a record found here or on Ancestry.

Let's take the example result above with submitter code GCH. Scroll down to the bottom of The Computerized Ancestor home page and find the section titled "Authors." Click on the Begin Browsing button. The list of authors (submitters) gives last name, first name, middle name, city, state, zip code, submitter code and file. Scroll down to the Search for section.

I tried entering the submitter code and clicking Search, but I couldn't get it to work for me. Instead, I guessed that GCH were initials so I searched for Last Name of "H" and then browsed through the H surnames until I found GCH in the Code column. GCH happens to be George Christian Hamilton of Saudi Arabia.

A more complicated approach probably works more reliably. Say you wish to find submitter code GUI. Change Settings so that the Ordering dropdown is "by Code." Then click Change Settings. Then search for the code of interest. In the search results, the code you searched for is listed 2nd. To get it to the top of the list, search for the code immediately after it. In the case of GUI, this is GV1. Now GUI will be the first result in the list. Change Settings so that the Ordering dropdown is "by Name, City,..." and click Change Settings. In the search results, the code you're interested in is again listed 2nd, but now the submitter's information is displayed with it. In the case of GUI, the submitter is Barbara Hammond of Paris, IL 61944 and the GUI code was derived from the GUINN file name instead of her name.

Contacting Yates Publishing

If you decide to purchase source material from Yates, their current contact information is

Bill Yates
508 Loomis Ave
Melba, ID  83641
208-495-9871
wyates@montana.com
www.yates.montana.com

Provide the source citation and Yates says, "I can provide a copy for a specific reference for $7.50, payable by check or PayPal."

The source material is normally available in surname packets and you may wish to consider purchasing an entire packet.

"We have much data in our collection which is available nowhere else," Yates explained. A catalog containing the size and pricing for the different surname packets is available on the Yates website. Glancing through the catalog, I see packet costs range from $7.50 (for a dozen sheets) to $40 (for 140 sheets).

Hope that helps,
The Ancestry Insider

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great information. Have used this database many times and never gave it a thought to look more closely at the source citation. As always, look forward to reading your postings.

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  2. Ancestry Insider,
    Thank you so much for the info. I tried the Computerized Ancestor and loved it. I will keep your list handy so I will know what types of records Yates uses in US and International Marriage Records. Thanks again.
    SRJ

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  3. Dear Ron and SRJ,

    Thanks for your feedback. And thank you for your question, SRJ.

    -- The Ancestry Insider

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  4. What do I do if the submitter code is not shown? (some of your examples have the same problem)

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