Created as an index to and transcription of Connecticut’s early vital records, the Barbour Collection can be a huge timesaver for your research – provided you know its flaws. To start, it created using information that was recopied several times, creating the possibility for error. Second, it does not cover the entire period before the state of Connecticut required vital records: after about 1850, you should look elsewhere for your information. Third, certain towns have no bound volumes and therefore no entry in the Ancestry collection. Finally, the marriage of William Ely and Elizabeth Smith reveals one more issue.
The Ely-Smith marriage, which occurred in 1681, is listed twice in the Barbour. The first time is under William Ely. That marriage entry correctly lists Elizabeth’s maiden name. The second time is in the “no-surname” section. William’s full name is listed – but Elizabeth has only a first name. Most marriages would be listed twice, but Elizabeth’s entry should have fallen under Smith.
The person who transcribed the original record didn’t know how to handle the fact that it was altered. As William’s entry revealed, Elizabeth’s surname was apparently added later. When the marriage record was first transcribed, the addition was left out, leading to the “no-surname” entry. Yet, the transcribe or another individual later changed their mind and added the surname. The end result was a different entry depending whether you looked for William or for Elizabeth.
The Ely-Smith marriage reminds us that there’s one more thing you should consider when using the Barbour: does the entry look logical? If there’s anything “strange” about the entry, such as missing names, dates too close to the next birth, and more, be sure to refer back to the original document. Transcribers didn’t always know how to record dual dates or later additions to the record, and their mistakes can throw off your research. Be sure to check their work!
Are you stuck trying to locate and purchase a copy of a Connecticut birth, death or marriage?
Not finding what you need in a web search?
I’ve put all my “how to” hints together in one handout that details how to access records from Connecticut’s founding to the present, both when you know the town and when you don’t.
Purchase a copy for yourself or to use in your genealogy classroom on Teachers Pay Teachers.
There’s a new listserv available for people interested in Connecticut history and genealogy. Thanks to the Office of the State Historian, CTHISTORY-L has been launched through UCONN… It’s designed to be a place to ask questions about history, share about upcoming events and more. I’m excited to see what events and historical facts are shared.
For information on how to subscribe, go to http://cthistory.org/cthistory-l/.
A client’s research project has added a new archive to my must-check list! Can you guess where it is?
Yes, inside the church.
The American Baptist Churches of Connecticut Archive occupies part of the third floor of Central Baptist Church in Hartford (pretty impressive in its own right!). It’s only open by appointment (usually on the days when the Historical Council is meeting), so be sure to call the church office before visiting.
Occupying two rooms, the archives contains books on the history of the Baptist Church, histories of specific Connecticut churches, scrapbooks, clipping files, and more. As of right now, it does not have membership records from individual churches…
But don’t write it off as a resource! My favorite among their holdings is a book that identified and gave a history for each Baptist church in a Connecticut community. It warned me that a town I was researching had actually had a Baptist church – although it had disbanded in 1871. If you’re looking for an ancestor who might have had an influential role in a specific church or to identify and trace the history of a Baptist church your ancestor might have attended, the ABCONN archive is the place to go…
And even better, their goal is to see more researchers on a regular basis. If you have a friend who would benefit from their collection, be sure to spread the word!
I’ve spent the morning trying to determine if a Connecticut resident served in the American Revolution. I tried most of the usual sources – Record of Connecticut Men in the Revolution, Revolutionary War pension files – without success.
But my “last chance” source was a success. If you’re not aware, Revolutionary War pensions have been digitized and are searchable on Fold3. This search function includes everyone named in the pension, not just the person applying.
Why does that matter? Because the pension application process required the person applying to “prove” that they had served. That proof, in most cases, came from depositions from other soldiers in the same or related units. These men, in the process of documenting the service of the pension applicant, often also documented their own service in detail. For a man whose service is documented no where else, it can be a priceless resource.
You’ve been waiting for months – but the message still appears on the website of the Archdiocese of Hartford: “sacramental record and genealogical requests cannot be fulfilled at this time.” So, what do you do?
Don’t give up! As long as you’re looking for sacramental records – such as births, deaths and marriages – you have another option. The archives holds duplicates of these records on microfilm, not the originals.
The originals are still held by the parish in which they were created. Just remember, unlike in the archives, there is no set policy that access must be granted. When you contact the office, be pleasant and be sure to allow plenty of time for your request to be completed. A donation always helps!
Have you considered tracing a World War I ancestor’s experience through newspaper accounts? Such accounts can include details about battles, information about the organization of regiments and numerous personal details. And better yet, for Norwich and Bridgeport, they can be free!
Chronicling America includes digitized versions of the Norwich and Bridgeport papers through the early 1920s, after the end of the War. Hopefully you can find just what you’re looking for about your ancestor!