Location, Location, Location: Finding Records Look EVERYWHERE Part 2
In my last post on locations I failed to mention a few things that caused me some frustration today. I only had a couple of hours to photograph records when I was in South Kingstown RI. While I was there the clerk mentioned the earliest records were actually in North Kingstown which I did not have time to visit. So today I went to my local Family Search Library affiliate to see what I could find in North Kingstown Records. It was very frustrating to say the least. I also mentioned in my last post that Family Search had finished digitizing their microfilm records—wonderful. But their records, are digitizations of old microfilms, and there may be many items on the same film and they are not always in order, nor are they intuitive. I could not find several records I had looked at in person! I will have to go back and look through page by page. There is an advantage in looking at records page by page as I did in person, as sometimes records you don’t expect are found in odd places.
But here is a happy accident. The records for North Kingstown were badly burned and water damaged in 1870. However much earlier in when South Kingston began their records they copied the united Kingstown records (held in North Kingstown) into their ledgers. So this record is the Will and Inventory of John Sheldon from the South Kingston Record Book 1.
Looks like this in North Kingstown where it was originally recorded:
So if you are looking for early records of Kingstown you are better off looking in South Kingstown rather than North Kingstown even though the records are supposed to go further back in North Kingstown! I don’t know about you but I think the South Kingstown is more complete and easier to read! This also points out the difference between Photographing the original records versus looking at a copy online!
Which brings me to another issue which I have seen many times (especially in Massachusetts) there are often many copies of early records and/or transcriptions. Sometimes it’s good to use both originals and later transcriptions. Sometimes it is hard to figure out which is the oldest. So here are some things to keep in mind while researching early records
FINDING & COPYING EARLY RECORDS
- Visit in person when at all possible
- Photograph records rather than scanning old records (less handling & less chance of harm)
- Look in nearby communities—records aren’t always where you think they might be
- Look in every old record you can find—Births can be recorded in Town Meeting Records books or in Probate Records. Land Records may be in Probate books etc.
- Later Indexes do not always refer to the page numbers of the original records (especially early ones)
- Digitizations in black and white are harder to read than the originals
- If you photograph records you can later adjust exposure and contrast to make the records easier to read
- Be persistent, if you have time look at every record page by page
- Photograph front covers and first pages when possible
Kelly Wheaton Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved.