Monday, January 09, 2012

Finding a Record Copy or a FamilySearch folly

FROM: Jackie Riggs,
I would like to get a copy of the following record. How would I go about this?

Groom's Name:James Colvin Groom's Birth Date: Groom's Birthplace: Groom's Age: Bride's Name: Catherine Freeman Bride's Birth Date: Bride's Birthplace: Bride's Age: Marriage Date: 09 Nov 1864 Marriage Place: Carluke, Lanark, Scotland Groom's Father's Name: Groom's Mother's Name: Bride's Father's Name: Bride's Mother's Name: Groom's Race: Groom's Marital Status: Groom's Previous Wife's Name: Bride's Race: Bride's Marital Status: Bride's Previous Husband's Name: Indexing Project (Batch) Number: M11629-1 System Origin: Scotland-ODM Source Film Number:6035516 Reference Number: ___________.

Ol' Myrt here commends you for wanting to move beyond an index to the original document. It looks like you've copied and pasted info from an indexed entry for your ancestors at I searched and found the entry in question.

1864 Colvin-Freeman Scottish marriage record index from FamilySearch.
The quick answer is to advise you to order the marriage record online from the website, since you have the bride and groom's name and the date. Scotland was the first country to partner with a commercial organization to provide access to public records online for a small fee.

But your query points out a flaw in the FamilySearch page you viewed. It should push you toward finding the original marriage record, but the microform number 6035516 does not contain the image of the marriage record, nor does it contain any references to individuals.

To prove my point, I took a field trip to the Family History Library and consulted with several employees there. I also brought a printout of your query paragraph. (It is the green paper in photos below). This is my report.

Ol' Myrt turned to the Family History Library Catalog, and changed the search criteria from the default "place-name" to "film number" then copied and pasted the "6035516". This returned:

Register of births, marriages and deaths of Scotland
author:Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family History Library (Salt Lake City, Utah)
availability:Family History Centers

Now you and I both know the LDS Church didn't create parish registers in Scotland from 1855-1955 and provide copies to Family History Centers, so a little more background on this might be in order. Delving further, we discover that the British Reference Desk consultants at the Family History Library created this register that is an aide to accessing Scottish church records "index, 1855-1955, and certificates 1855-1875, 1881, and 1891."

The catalog entry explains "Use the register by turning to the county. These are listed alphabetically. Find the parish number in the listing at the beginning of the county. Turn to the event year and find the parish number in that year. The microfilm number for the certificates is identified across from the parish number."

1. I went to B-2, the British Isles floor, and located the "6035516"microfiche in a bank of drawers.

2. To my surprise there were 2 complete and 1 partial set of "6035516" microfiche. A five minute review of each determined they are duplicates.

I spent some time reviewing the introductory pages on the fiche to get a quick study about this index on fiche.

The fiche do not contain 100 years of marriage records for many Scottish parishes as one would think from the "Source" reference on your original query. Instead, the fiche include the staff's index to the location of Scottish parish records on a series of microfilm elsewhere in the FHL collection. Why the entry for your ancestor listed "6035516" as the source for your specific ancestors' index entry is beyond me. There was nothing on the fiche about individuals, but instead contained information about Scottish counties and parishes. 

3. Looking up "Lanark" (the county in Scotland) was a snap. From there, I made note of the code next to the parish of "Carluke", your ancestor's marriage place.

4. Using that code "629", I then moved to a different portion of the microfiche, where I took the year of the marriage "1864" and that "629" code to determine I needed to pull the "323630" microfilm to hopefully view the marriage record itself.

5. Next, I pulled the "323630" microfilm from the drawer. Fortunately British Isles microfilm are found on the British Isles floor at the Family History Library, so it was just a few rows away from my initial workspace at the microfiche reader.

6. I scrolled through the microfilm to get to the "Carluke" entries. There were multiple parishes on this film.

7. I located the specific entry for your ancestor, and per my custom, took a picture of the image with the microfilm box indicating the film number to make creating a citation easier. I also made a scanned copy of the image.

Note the "zoomed in view" above lists many more details about this couple than are listed in the indexed entry. There is information about occupations, about the parents, whether the parents are deceased, etc. Also the marriage date is listed as 10 Nov 1864. How that could have been incorrectly keyed during the indexing process I'll never know. This completely shoots down the recommendation of two Family History Library staffers who stated it wasn't necessary to get a copy of the original record, as there would be nothing more to add than was shown in the index. [sigh]


  • Don't rely solely on indexes.
  • Always obtain a copy of the original record.
  • Unless someone lives in the greater Salt Lake City area, working through the microfiche to then find the appropriate microfilm to order through a local Family History Center will add weeks of delays to the process.
  • FamilySearch should revise their screen so that the true "source" of an indexed entry is indicated on this large collection of Scottish marriage records. Failing that, a description of this process for getting to the microfilm of the original should be linked on that page.
  • It may be quicker and perhaps less expensive to merely order the document through ScotlandsPeople. (I have yet to report on that process.)


And so, DearJACKIE, I'll now send you a copy of the marriage record for your ancestors via email.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.