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When records have been extracted and indexed, but the images are not available online, how can I find out more information about how the index was made, and what fields were on the original records?

I am researching a death in College Point, Queens, in 1897 (before the 1898 consolidation of the boroughs into greater New York City). I have a record which appears on FamlySearch.org as part of a B-batch in the New York-EASy records, indexed as part of the collection "New York Deaths and Burials, 1795-1952". There is a film number, but no image.

Indexing Project (Batch) Number: B59629-7 System Origin: New York-EASy GS Film number: 1376367 Reference ID: rn729

Could the "rn" in the reference ID be 'register number'?

Cross-checking with the catalog tab on Family Search, I can see how to order film 1376367, but what is this reference ID? It is not in the same format as the certificate numbers from his mother and aunt's deaths in post-consolidation NYC, but that could be an artifact of the change from records that were kept in each borough versus a consolidated system for NYC as a whole.

How can I find out more information about the EASy batches, and determine what this reference ID might be?


Edited to add what I've discovered so far via catalog search:

Looking the records up in the catalog, film number 1376367 consists of multiple items. To get College Point, what I need is this item: Record of births and deaths, 1881-1898 / Flushing (New York). The film notes say:

Index to village of College Point deaths Angerine - Zwiecke 1889-1897 - FHL US/CAN Film [ 1378869 Item 2 ]

and the notes section says:

Microfilm of original records at the Municipal Archives, New York, New York. Includes registers from the town of Flushing, 1881-1898; the village of Flushing, 1889-1898; the village of Richmond Hill, 1895-1897; the village of College Point, 1889-1897; the village of Whitestone, 1889-1897; the village of Rockaway, 1897-1898; and the village of Far Rockaway, 1889-1897.

So this does tell me the kind of record (registers, not certificates) that will be seen on the microfilm, and the provenance, and that there is an index on the microfilm as well. What I don't know yet are the fields, i.e., the column headings in the College Point registers. I'll revisit some of the personal sites about Queens genealogy that I've bookmarked, the New York Public Library, the Queens Public Library, the State Archives, etc. to see if I can find an answer.

  • It's worth noting that sometimes other online sources will have scans of the data instead of just the indexed data. In particular, I have found that searching for a record on Findmypast often results in the scanned copy, and not just the indexed data. Between findmypast, familysearch, and ancestory most of the documents are available. – PearsonArtPhoto Dec 20 '14 at 20:25
  • @PearsonArtPhoto yes indeed, I often check multiple data providers for that reason. Part of the reason I wrote the question was to figure out how to learn more information about the source, to avoid ordering the microfilms for something you can find online. When I wrote this question a year ago, Family Search had not made as many records available to other providers as they do today; that will be more and more true as time goes on. – Jan Murphy Dec 20 '14 at 20:34
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I was hoping to find more about the history of the different systems, but this page has a good overview of how to use the reference numbers at the bottom of the page to get back to the original source.

Understanding the source information behind Historical Records results

Citing Sources from the Legacy Collections at Historical Records

For over 30 years, volunteer indexers extracted information from microfilm copies of original records. In 2000, some of the entries were published on eight (8) CDs by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and made available at family history centers. When records began to be published online, the legacy material was digitized and published on https://familysearch.org/search. The indexes were compiled from several sources: EASY, VR (vital records) and ODM (Ordinance Management) databases and from books.

A similar help page about the IGI is here:

How to locate and search the International Genealogical Index (IGI)

If you are looking for records in a particular location, you can search the wiki for articles about known issues with particular collections. E.g.

Massachusetts Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)/Known Issues

  • Question #1: When searching Batch I00949-5 in this collection, I find that the date listed for the marriage date is the same date as the death date found in Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915. Is this the death date or the marriage date?
  • Answer #1: All of the marriage dates found in Batch I00949-5 are death dates. This can be confirmed by searching for the same person in the Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915 collection and viewing the image of the actual death record.

  • Question #2: When I click on the link to a film on the record details page I am taken to a results list of Nevada Marriages. Can you explain this?

  • Answer #2: The records associated with Batch #M50067-1 are linked to an incorrect film. The Batch number on the record details page is correct.

This is the kind of "gotcha" I wanted to know about, so it seems that looking in the Wiki for 'known issues' will reveal some problems with the collections. (The articles have a link to report other corrections to support@familysearch.org if necessary.)


Three new indexes were added to FamilySearch.org on 20 Mar 2015:

The collection consists of an index to birth records from New York City including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Richmond boroughs. The collection covers the years 1846 to 1909.

The collection consists of an index to the marriage records from the five municipal boroughs of New York City and their predecessor counties.

The dates covered by this collection are 1866 to 1938.

The collection consists of an Index to New York municipal death records. The records come from the five-borough city. The time period varies by borough (county): New York City (Manhattan) 1795-1949, Bronx 1898-1948, Brooklyn 1847-1949, Queens 1898-1949, and Richmond 1898-1949.

See the associated Wiki articles for possible record content and tips for searching the indexes. There are also videos demonstrating how to search (links are in the Wiki articles). FHL Microfilm numbers are at the bottom of the index entries, which allows you cross-check whether the microfilms are available online or need to be ordered.

Thanks to Randy Seaver for his post of 24 March 2015 on his blog Geneamusings: FamilySearch Has Added New York City Records for the pointer to these new additions.

  • 1
    Thanks to a link you provided here I just found a New York City birth record that I have been hoping to find for quite some time: "New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909," index, FamilySearch (familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:27TB-871 : accessed 26 March 2015), William A Seller, 15 Jan 1857; citing Birth, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1315312. – PolyGeo Mar 27 '15 at 0:01
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    @PolyGeo, for the full citation, you may want to add the FHL microfilm number 1315312 before the period. – Jan Murphy Mar 27 '15 at 4:00

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