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I did a search on Ancestry using the Massachusetts Marriage Index, trying to find my uncle's spouse. I have the index page staring at me, and it says Vol 588 P 115. When I search, it brings me back to the same index page. No help there, so I went to FamilySearch, and it can't find anything at all. Putting in 1908-1910 instead of 1909 (marriage year) also yields the same, as does putting in the town (Sharon).

Can anyone help me figure out how to search and actually get a reasonable result?

I've looked at the answers from a similar question posted in April, Understanding how to use Massachusetts Marriage Index, but so far nothing in those notes has worked.

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You can find the images for the marriage register on FamilySearch.

  1. Log in to FamilySearch and select Search > Catalog.

    Search > Catalog

  2. Select "Search by Place" and type Massachusetts. Select "United States, Massachusetts" from the dropdown menu and click the Search button.

    search for Massachusetts

  3. In the search results, scroll down to "United States, Massachusetts - Vital records (n)" and click the triangle to expand this category.

    expand vital records

  4. Scroll down to "Massachusetts birth, marriage, death records, 1906-1910, from town clerks" and click the link to view the list of digitized microfilm roll for this catalog entry.

    catalog

  5. Search in the browser (ctrl-F or cmd-F) for the volume number, in your case "588" without the quotation marks. Note that volume 588 spans two rolls. You want the one that contains page 115, so that's the first one. The magnifying glass indicates the roll is searchable, and the camera indicates you can freely view the pages. Sometimes there is an "Item n" in the fourth column. This means that there are multiple books digitized on the same roll, and you want the nth book on that roll. Click the camera icon.

    volume 588 in catalog entry

  6. Since there was no "Item n," book 1 is what you want, which is what you are viewing. By trial and error, locate page 115. This is not "Image 115 of 1166" in the top left corner; it is page 115 in the actual book that was filmed. This will usually be in a top corner of the digitized page. In this case, page 115 of the book is image 65.

    all pages

  7. Find your people on the page. You can download the image with a link at the top right. The Image Index at the bottom sometimes contains a transcription of the text.

    page 115

  • Nice answer, but you went wrong at step 6 when you assumed you wanted printed page 115 from the first item on the roll. I apologize for making a horrible example of your answer, but I think it's useful to show how easily one can make a mistake while browsing. If you'd like to fix it, I suggest leaving the screenshots in and talking about how the target card for the first item refers to the wrong county for Sharon and page 115 is for Holyoke, which is a sign you need to look for Volume 588. – Jan Murphy Dec 10 '19 at 8:33
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    Good catch! I work better when I have actual names to find. I think steps 1-5 are what OP was missing, though. Sounds like OP didn't know where to find the rolls. Search > Catalog is the most important part of this answer. – shoover Dec 10 '19 at 8:42
  • You're right, I didn't know how to find the rolls. With the help you provided, I went through that volume and Norfolk County wasn't there. So I went to the previous volume and found page 115 of Norfolk County, and there was Sharon and there was both my uncle and his wife. Thank you all for your help. I may very well be able to track down some others in my family now. What a boon! – Joy Dec 20 '19 at 2:06
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Case 1: NEHGS/AmericanAncestors.org:

AmericanAncestors.org (NEHGS)'s database Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1841-1910 is available to browse as well as search. Choose the Browse box at the right-hand side of the page, and enter 588 in the box for Volume and 115 in the box for Page and hit the Browse button.

enter image description here

First let's take a look at the citation to see what we are viewing:

Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1841-1910. (From original records held by the Massachusetts Archives. Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004.)

https://www.americanancestors.org/DB191/t/10654/115/0

After hitting the browse button, you can choose whether you want to see a transcript or an image by choosing the appropriate tab. It's always best to view the original image when that is available.

enter image description here

You can see that the town records are from the town of Sharon (Norfolk County), which is the town you were looking for. The page number 115 is printed in the top right corner.

Case 2: FamilySearch

The image of register page 115 showing records from the town of Holyoke shown in the previous answer is from Volume 587. Marriages registered in the town of Sharon, Volume 588 page 115, are on Film # 004329362 image 845 (of 1116).

You can cross-check this by scrolling back to the divider between the Volumes (around image 728):

enter image description here

My experience is that FamilySearch puts explicit item numbers in the Film Notes when the multiple items are from different collections. When the Film Notes show two volumes from the same record set on the same roll, they expect the user to understand that the earlier volume is the first on the roll. For cases like this, where the start of a new volume is near the end of a roll, it's often easier to start at the end of the roll and browse backwards to get to the page you want to make sure you are in the correct volume.

In all cases, look carefully at the register page to see if the page tells you where the marriage actually took place, since the town listed in the header is only where the event was registered. Marriages in Massachusetts can be recorded in up to three different towns (groom's residence, bride's residence, and the marriage location). If the header is cut off and you don't see a town name, the name of the clergyman can be a clue as to where the wedding took place.

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