Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Mailbox: Collection Names and Blog Duplication

Dear Insider,

Another issue with the “Oklahoma County Marriages, 1891-1959” record collection is the name. There is a county in Oklahoma named Oklahoma. Many of our customers--and even a staff member-- at the library look at the title and say "My relatives didn't marry in Oklahoma County, so why look at this?"


Dear Tex,

I couldn’t agree more. FamilySearch tends to make one of two mistakes in such record collections:

-- The Insider

Dear Readers,

To produce this blog I use a free service from Google. They’ve proven very reliable. But Friday the 13th was too much for them. There was a 24 hour period Thursday and Friday during which I could not post new articles and you could not leave comments. I’m sorry if you got multiple copies of articles, or if you couldn’t post comments, or if you posted comments and they were deleted. Hopefully all the problems are now in the past.

-- The Insider


  1. AI, you stated that FamilySearch combined the index of WV County Death records with the index of State death certificates. I think this is not quite true. It appears to me that they just adopted the existing index from the WV State Archives (which has indexing errors identical to those in the FamilySearch index), which also fails to separate out the different origins. At least in some cases the FamilySearch index did incorporate identification of book:page -- not given much at all in the WV State Archives images. Another mistake in this database on FamilySearch's part is to fail to distinguish between Marriage Bonds and Marriage Records.

  2. I'm fairly new to archival principles, but could provenance be maintained with well-documented source citations? I would think that for convenience to users a collection could be made from many sources so long as each record could accurately be tied to its origin. As an example, if I am looking for a record of a particular individual or couple but I am fuzzy on the exact locality, I'd rather have a collection of sources from various counties in a state combined so I wouldn't miss a record in a neighboring county, so long as I had a good source citation to cite for my discovery. :)

  3. Dear Geolover,

    If I'm not mistaken, FamilySearch microfilmed the West Virginia records in various county and state archives. FamilySearch subsequently digitized their microfilm, indexed it, and provided both back to the state. Some record custodians allow FamilySearch to show the images to patrons. West Virginia opted to host the images on their own website.

    Each record contains the FHL film number, providing the provenance back to the particular archive.

    Which brings us to...

    Dear KG,

    I agree with combining collections when:

    1. Provenance is preserved,

    2. The records can be accessed in the same arrangement as the originals (another archival principle), and

    3. The combined sources are substantially similar in form and evidentiary value.

    For the West Virginia case, number 1 is true, but 2 and 3 are not.

    -- The Insider


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