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In my quest to find the original marriage record of James C. Redenburgh and Mary Jones (m. 5 Oct 1853), I found that his marriage was could be found in FHL Microfilm 1,671,673. So I accessed that film and found that it contained 789 images. BTW, the film is not indexed.

Now, my problem is that I don't understand how this book was organized. The very first page (image) says "Register of Marriages New York, NY Vol 1, June 1847-Jan 1849. Then there is a handwritten page saying the same thing. The following image lists marriages in 1829 and 1830 (actually out of the scope of the title). But the arrangement is what is intriguing. The order of listing appears to be, first by year, then by alphabetic order of the surname of the groom. (So the date of marriage is not chronological. (At which point I thought that I understood how the listings would be organized _Horray!)

So I skipped ahead to 1853 and found the first listing was Adam on Aug 27 1853, next was Allen on June 1 1853, etc...

So I'm skipping through the A's and suddenly find myself in 1854, but starting over with the alphabetized order (aa,ab,ac etc). I have yet to get to the R's

So my question is this: does anyone have experience (and can guide me) as to how these listings were organized?

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When you find a FHL microfilm, you can learn more about the arrangement of the records by doing a FamilySearch catalog search.

Start at the home page for FamilySearch and select Catalog from the Navigation bar, or from the drop-down Search menu.

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Next, choose the Search box to search for a film or fiche number, and enter your film number there. The commas aren't necessary, so you should take them out. If the search fails with older film numbers, they may need to be padded with a few leading zeros.

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Select the appropriate filter with the radio button if necessary, then click the blue search button to see your search results.

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Clicking the title of the collection will take you to the catalog page for this set of records. Use Control-F or Command-F and enter your film number into the box to find your film number in the Film Notes, which are found underneath the main catalog description.

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The Film notes will tell you how the images are arranged on the roll. Once you are in the viewer, the Film Number displayed is the number in the DGS column in the Film Notes. Use the controls at the top left to navigate through the images. The icon underneath the +/- controls toggles between viewing thumbnails and a single image.

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Start with the thumbnail view and look for images which show the bound covers and spines of the books. Look inside the front of each register book -- sometimes register books can have their own handwritten indexes which you can use to navigate to the image you want.

The next time you are at a Family History Center, look for the Register of New York City marriage records. This confusingly-titled document is a FHL finding aid and guide that explains how to use the microfilms. Look underneath the main catalog entry for the link to view the digital item.

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Searching for your film number gives you a table which contains the same material from the Film Notes in the online catalog, showing what registers are on your film.

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I always read the Film Notes when I am given a FHL film number from someone else's website. It's much easier to see what's going on when you can see the record books in context.

If this still doesn't make any sense, is it possible that your source made a typographical error and you have the wrong film number?

For more information, read the FamilySearch Research Wiki article New York City Genealogy, Section 4.3 New York City Marriage Records.

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  • Last question first, source was Familysearch, and I am in "correct" film. But your tip to look at the film notes revealed something that I had not yet seen (or failed to recognize). This film documents 3 and one-half volumes of registers covering the period of 1829-1860. Unfortunately there is no thumbnail image (that I've seen yet) that marks the end of each volume. So it appears up to the searcher to discover where each volume begins and ends. As it applies to my specific quest the "search records" for my guy states that the record of his marriage is in the above film, but it also – BobE Nov 8 '19 at 21:48
  • says" Reference ID..... vol 2". So I'm hoping that if I can find the end of volume 2 in the film, I'll be able to work backwards through the alphabet to find the Rs (for Redenburgh). It will have to wait till my FHC is open again next Thursday. – BobE Nov 8 '19 at 21:51
  • BTW, The Family History LIbrary has compiled a nice 136 page book that is a guide called: Register of New York City Marriage Records. Very nicely done and well organized. There is a companion 209 page guidebook: Register of New York City Death Records. Unfortunately this guide is not available for on-line viewing - Go Figure? – BobE Nov 8 '19 at 21:58
  • I forgot to say that the FHL guidebook on NYC marriages is available online (at Familysearch) and can also be downloaded (whole) as a pdf. Why the death record guide is not is a mystery. – BobE Nov 9 '19 at 3:49
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    Yes, I linked to the Register of NYC Marriage records in my answer. There are other guides for Births and Deaths, but they've changed the permissions and as you discovered the death record register can't be viewed remotely. I downloaded all three when FamilySearch allowed downloads. See also the FS Research Wiki article on NYC Vital records - I've added a link to the end of my answer – Jan Murphy Nov 9 '19 at 8:06

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