Friday, December 12, 2014

Darned Records: Always Check Adjacent Images

Front side of a California marriage recordWe 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, or downright laughable.

Yes, Records say the Darnedest Things.”

Experienced researchers know to look forward and backward when viewing images online or on microfilm. A coworker told me about a recent experience. He was helping a friend view California county marriage records.
The reverse side of a California County marriage records contains additional information.My coworker was familiar with these records and knew to check the next image to see the back of the form. The back contained this additional information:

  • Bride and groom’s marital status and number of the marriage
  • Bride and groom’s occupation and industry
  • Parents and their birthplaces
  • The bride and groom’s birthplaces and residences are sometimes given with greater specificity.
  • Much of the information from the front is duplicated on the back. If illegible on the front, it might be legible on the back.

Having learned the principle, his friend applied it to British Columbia marriage records and made a more serendipitous discovery. Only the fronts of these records were present. There was no apparent reason to check the next image.

Interfiled among the marriage records he found a letter from their rector, certifying banns.But when he checked, he found interfiled among the marriage records, someone had slipped in a letter from their rector, certifying banns of marriage had been read. Had he not checked the next image, he would have missed this cool document.

Darn you if you don’t check the images before and after the one with your record!


  1. It is a shame that does not allow the downloading to your computer of multiple page documents. At least, I came across a multiple page passport application and I could not print the additional pages because they were not indexed to the person on the first page.

    1. ...if you can see the document on Ancestry, you can download it...


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