16 November 2011

Alien Enemies and Digital Images From Kansas--What's the Source?

Ancestry.com recently released a database of Registration Affidavits of Alien Enemies, 1917-1918. Their images come from the microfilm copies made of these records. This is indicated in their description of the "Original Data:" Registration Affidavits of Alien Enemies and Alien Females for the District of Kansas under the Presidential Proclamations of November 16, 1917, and April 19, 1918. NARA microfilm publication M1997, 9 rolls. Records of United States Attorneys, Record Group 118. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

These records are also available digitally on the National Archives site and can be searched and viewed there at no charge.
There is a difference between the Ancestry.com images and the ones at the National Archives, other than the price. The National Archives images appear to be from digital photographs made of the images. 

Ancestry.com's image (unaltered)--click to view original size:

National Archives image (unaltered)-click to view original size:

A quick sample of two other images indicated similar differences. 

Bottom line: I'd use Ancestry.com images to search the database but look at the NARA images afterwards. The search at Ancestry.com is more robust and includes more names than the NARA site does.

Bottom line 2: Situations like this are why genealogists cite their sources accurately and completely, including the source of the digital image--not just citing only where the original is located.