18 November 2011

Where Did Missouri Marriages 1805-2002 Come From?

This is the source information, copied directly from the Ancestry.com site.

Source Information

Ancestry.com. Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007.
Original data: Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.

To me, this is vague and does not adequately convey the provenance of these records. The "original data" is not very specific and does not even imply that these are county-level records, originally created by the county.

The "about" screen for the marriage really did not tell me very much about where the original document was located, created, etc. It did tell me the county and the date of the marriage.
 Viewing the image itself was not very helpful either.  It simply told me that this was 3rd set of images from "Record images for Macon" in 1860.

There was no way to easily maneuver to find the first page of the book. Finding the volume number or the years covered in the volume itself is nearly impossible.

In this case, I know the record is the same as the records in the county courthouse because I have used the Family History Library's microfilm of those records and compared the image for Wm C. Rhodes' marriage as shown here with the image I made from the Family History Library's microfilm.

However, there were significant differences in using that microfilm:

  • I knew what I was looking at because the roll of microfilm indicated who created the records.
  • I knew what volume of records I was looking at because the card catalog entry told me what the volume was. This was also clear because the microfilm contained a photograph of the outside of the volume--making it clear. 
I like having access to record images at Ancestry.com. What I don't like is not always knowing the provenance of what I am looking at. In this case I knew because I had utilized the records elsewhere in a more manageable, yet unindexed form. 

Are you listening Ancestry.com? Some of us would like images organized a little closer to the original so that we could be more certain of how the image on our screen came to be created in the first place. 

Others are calling for metadata so that sources automatically get imported into our databases in an Evidence Explained format. I'm not so concerned about that.

I'd like source descriptions that clearly indicated the provenance of the image appearing on my screen. I shouldn't have to reverse engineer that information--it takes too much time. Citations I can manage.