19 June 2015

Into a Briar Bush - Genealogy Records Page by Page

"If a girl jumps into a briar bush, it is hard to tell which bush scratches the hardest."[1]

This birth certificate took my breath away. There were several illegitimate births each year in Stonington, Connecticut, but for this one, either the doctor or the clerk felt the need to pass moral judgement on the mother of this baby boy. 

Genealogy Records Page by Page

I found the record for baby boy Morrison born in 1863 by looking through the Stonington vital records on microfilm, image by image. When you are searching for a family (online, on microfilm or in person), take the time to proceed page by page. There are several benefits to this process;
  • become familiar with names of fellow residents; important when building your FAN club
  • find items missed during indexing or indexed incorrectly
  • microfilm: you may discover film descriptions are inaccurate and find something you didn't expect to find
  • births: find babies recorded without first names
  • marriages: learn the names of officiants of other marriages and by extension discover religious institutions
  • deaths: learn about most common causes and epidemics
  • discover interesting stories and add to your knowledge of the time and place
Yes. It takes more time to look at every page or image. I spent eight hours going through this microfilm reel! That's three days spent at the Family History Center in Exeter, New Hampshire. However, not only did I find several family records, I found baby Morrison's birth certificate. 

Baby Morrison's certificate tells us about the morals of the day and society's view on illegitimate births, promiscuity and racial prejudice. Was this remark made by the white doctor because of the mother's color? We could answer this question by making a survey of all of the illegitimate births in Stonington and noting the doctors' names and their remarks.[2] 

I hope you will consider going page by page the next time you are hunting for an ancestor's record. Let me know what you find. 

Research on!

Jennifer Shoer aka Scrappy Gen

Let's Remember!
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[1] Stonington, Connecticut, Records of births, marriages, deaths 1847- 1869, Certificate of Birth, 39, Morrison, April 12th, 1863; FHL microfilm 1309873, Item 4.
[2] 1850 U.S. census, Stonington, New London County, Connecticut, population schedule, p. 270 (stamped), dwelling 208, family 381, Geo. E. Palmer; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 June 2015); citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 48.