Overheard in GenForum: Need birth of Daniel Lacy, approximately 1815, CT
A: The Internet is so intertwined with the way genealogists research, that sometimes we forget that there is still a great deal of data that is not currently available online.
Some states have begun to put digitized indexes to their vital records online. This serves two purposes. It helps them because they get to field more requests containing complete and accurate information for certain certificates. Second it gives us a chance to do some preliminary research online. Unfortunately, Connecticut is not one of the states that has done this.
Understanding Connecticut Vital Records
Connecticut is one of the New England states. This is a region known for having begun the recording of vital records back to an earlier time period than many of the other states in the United States.
Connecticut like the other New England states records vital records, that is births, marriages, and deaths, on the town level. Most towns have been recording these events since the founding of the town. Often these records were entered directly into the town records.
Because these items were entered in the town records, it has often required a researcher to search page-by-page for the entries for their family. Families were often entered together at a single time, at least the children that were born up to that point.
An Index of Sorts
Researchers in Connecticut get an index of sorts to most of the towns in the state. Named for its creator, Lucius Barbour, this is the closest thing to an index that researchers in Connecticut will get.
At the time that Lucius Barbour was the Examiner of Public Records for Connecticut, he directed a project designed to abstract the vital records of the towns of Connecticut up through the year 1850.
This index was originally compiled into books for each town. Within the pages, the entries were in order alphabetically. Each entry was also put on slips of paper that were then alphabetized as one complete set. Most researchers rely on this state-wide alphabetized set when working with the Barbour Collection.
Working with Barbour
The Barbour Collection is available on microfilm. The original manuscript can be found in the Connecticut State Library in Hartford, Connecticut. The microfilm collection is available in many libraries with genealogy collections and through the Family History Library.
The alphabetical state-wide index is available on 81 reels of 16 mm microfilm. The town books can be found on 17 reels of 35 mm microfilm. If your genealogy library doesn't have this set, you can order just the films you need through your local Family History Center.
Each entry whether in the town volumes or the slips of paper for the entire state will include the name of the individual, the entry in question (birth, marriage, or death), possible additional comments by Barbour and his team of abstractors, the town where the event was recorded, and the volume and page number of the original town records where the event was recorded.
The Barbour Collection is a major aid to genealogists of Connecticut research. While much has been abstracted, Barbour did not abstract the records of all towns. If he knew a town had already had their vital records abstracted and published he did not include them in his project. The town of Norwich is a perfect example of this.
It is also a good idea to return to the original town records. Many of these have also been microfilmed by the Family History Library. The Barbour Collection, while a major tool, is a secondary source as the entries in the collection were abstracted from the original source. Errors may have crept in. The only way to verify the information is to turn to the original town records.The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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