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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice  by Louise St Denis, Brenda Dougall Merriman and Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Recording Parish and Other Religious Registers

When searching through a microfilm:

  • First wind through the whole film to see what you have on it and write this down for reference in chart format, as in the first 4 columns in the chart below.
  • Second, check on the FamilySearch Historical Records page to see if the records have been digitized and available on FamilySearch. Then add a + sign in column 5 for those parts available online.
  • Third, select the most important items to read and as you do so note the item number, type or record and dates as a subheading, together with what you are searching for in this run through. When finished with an item check it off in column 6.
  • Fourth, after evaluating your research, consider what other items might be of value for this or other family lines and read those. You may have to add further columns to keep track of second readings.

Parish Registers of Wessex Film 1,234,567

Item
Parish
Type
Dates
On FamilySearch
Read
1.
Amwell
C
1780-1837
-
-
2.
Amwell
M
1813-1850
-
-
3.
Amwell
B
1780-1840
-
*
4.
Axworthy
C
1698-1812
-
*
5.
Axworthy
C
1813-1837
+
*
6.
Axworthy
M
1700-1754
-
*
7.
Axworthy
M
1754-1812
+
*
8.
Axworthy
M
1813-1865
+
*
9.
Axworthy
Banns
1754-1820
-
*
10.
Axworthy
B
1704-1780
-
*
11.
Axworthy
B
1780-1812
-
*
12.
Axworthy
B
1813-1882
-
*
13.
Bonhurst
C
1813-1850
+
-
14.
Bonhurst
M
1754-1812
+
-


Religious registers and copies vary so much in the amount of detail given for each entry, from a simple year and name to a dozen columns of details. Thus it would be impossible to create a transcript form to suit all types even for one religion in one country. The reader is thus urged to view the contents of each section of the register, then set up the page of their notebook with columns to reflect the total contents.

Such headings as page number, date, name, surname, event (abbreviated to CMB, etc.), abode, occupation, and one for ‘other information given’ should be considered as appropriate, and there may be many more, for example in Scandinavian registers.

Always write down everything for each entry; having a set of columns will remind you to check for missing data each time you find another family entry. For example, you may not know what the letters ‘B’ and ‘L’ refer to down the side of the page of marriages, but write it down anyway. Later you will need to know whether this marriage was by banns or license and you will have the information to guide you to these other, highly useful records.

The order in which you read items will depend upon the problem you have at hand. Each research scenario is different. There is an excellent section on using parish registers in Steel’s Discovering Your Family History with delightful examples.

It is very wise to commence searching well before, perhaps a generation before, the period when you think you might be finding entries and to continue looking for burials well after the family is known to have left the area, as many eventually return for burial. This is easy to do for small parishes in rural areas and much harder to achieve in populous cities, but can be done with judicious use of relevant C, M and B indexes.

As you work make a sketch family tree (drop-line chart) and this will help visualize the whole family. Consider adding a star on the left hand side of the page for ancestor entries and others that will require photocopying later.

When your reading is complete, then make a list of items for photocopying, in the order they appear on the film. This allows you to use the printer efficiently.

Parish maps can be colour-coded for PRs when you are dealing with a large family to help keep track of where they all are. I use orange for colouring parishes where I found the surname and yellow to show that I have read the PRs but none were found. One can have a different map for each century, or convenient parish register time period, in order to show the dispersion of the family over time.

Some FamilySearch Centers have a system whereby all patron films are recorded in a book for everyone to share. This may be called the Flip Chart or just List of Short-term Film Loans. Remember to check this list each time you are in the FamilySearch Center to see if others have films which could be useful to you. You also get to know who else is researching in the same area, for mutual benefit! I have a page at the back of my To Do book where I keep a running log of due dates checked for films at the two FSCs I use, thus I know which pages of the Flip Chart I have already checked.

Films should be left in the drawer until the ‘Due Date’, so that others can use them. Nothing is more frustrating than finding that a potentially useful film has been returned before its due date. Items that come as fiches will stay indefinitely at your FamilySearch Center.

It is most helpful to keep in the general family file a list of which parish registers (including their film numbers) that you have read for that family. If there are a lot of volumes or films for one parish then do a printout from the FHLC or other catalog and highlight each one as it is read, with a short note on items and dates covered.


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Methodology - Part 1: Getting Started, Methodology - Part 2: Organizing and Skillbuilding, Methodology - Part 3: More Strategies, Methodology - Part 4: Effective Searching and Recording, Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It, and Methodology - Part 6: Professional Preparation and Practice offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.

  • This page was last modified on 11 March 2014, at 16:37.
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