27 March 2012

World War I Draft Cards and Why "Where" Matters

Genealogists sometimes wonder why it's important to track exactly where a digital image was obtained--when it's "the same thing" anyway. 

The World War I draft cards which are online at Ancestry.com (World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 and at FamilySearch (World War I Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918) make an excellent illustration for why this tracking is important.  I had located the World War I draft card for Charles Thomas Neill years ago at Ancestry.com.

The image wasn't all that great, but having already seen the image on the microfilm, I didn't expect it to be all that great. I decided to take a look at the image on FamilySearch and see if it was similar to the Ancestry.com image. I was pleasantly surprised when the image loaded. It was more legible than the Ancestry.com image. It wasn't the information on the card that was my real interest--I was after Neill's signature as he's my great-grandfather. The FamilySearch image is significantly better than the one at Ancestry.com.
World War I Draft Card for Chas. Thomas Neill
Hancock County, Illinois
Obtained from FamilySearch
World War I Draft Card for Chas. Thomas Neill
Hancock County, Illinois
Obtained from Ancestry.com
I was even able to zoom in on the signature and get a fairly decent image of that from the FamilySearch image. 

I do have one question about the images on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch however. I'm wondering how much manipulation Ancestry.com and FamilySearch did to the images. The "image" on Ancestry.com loads with both sides of the card fairly close together--which I'm pretty certain is not the way they appear on the microfilm. 

 FamilySearch has some "space" between the cards--which I'm pretty certain is how they appear on the film.

What I'm wondering is--how much manipulation was done to the images made from the microfilm by Ancestry.com and by FamilySearch?

If I get an answer, I'll post an update.

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