Friday, February 28, 2014

Darned Saddle Stitched Booklets

Records say the darnedest thingsWe depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about our pasts.

Yet sometimes records have anomalies.
Some are amusing or humorous.
Some are interesting or weird.
Some are peculiar or suspicious.
Some are infuriating, even downright laughable.

Yes, “Records Say the Darnedest Things.”

In the 1800 U.S. census of Oneida County, New York, the enumerator had stitched some sheets of paper together (or were they sold that way?) to form a little booklet that kept the sheets together. He proceeded to enumerate the seven towns in the county. When it came time for the National Archives to microfilm the booklet, they took it apart (or maybe it had fallen apart on its own). The images below (borrowed from David Rencher’s RootsTech presentation) demonstrate how hopelessly entangled pages can become.


Notice page 1 numbered on the front.


In this 6 sheet example, the middle sheet is numbered pages 6 and 7.

The first sheet has pages 6 and 7 on the front and pages 8 and 5 on the back.


Rencher showed one sheet that had one page of the Rome enumeration on one half of the sheet and one page of the Mexico enumeration on the other half. Online, all the names have been enumerator as being in Mexico. For an example on, see Silas Wadsworth from the Rome side of the page, but indexed as from Mexico. Likewise on

(For a detailed exploration of the pages of this booklet, see Robert Raymond, Bill Smith’s 1800 Oneida County Enumeration District, web-book ( : accessed 9 February 2014).

The point Rencher made is that sometimes accessing the record online (or on microfilm), may not be sufficient. Sometimes one must access the original to truly understand a record.

Darned saddle-stitched booklets.


  1. Oh, crumbs!! Talk about making life more ... interesting! Thanks for the head's up on this possible problem. I haven't run into this (I think), but I'll be even more careful in the future when looking at digitized/microfilmed records.

  2. "Oh, crumbs!!".... is way too polite, ponyswimgal.... ;/ This is one of my areas of interest on two separate lines!
    Thanks, Ancestry Insider, for the heads up. And me fighting to trace land in the wrong places.... Going back to look at everything there. Who Knew!?!?!
    Hoping David Rencher's talk is one of the available videos, and thanks for the link to the Robert Raymond's book.
    Heading off to work now.....


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