Microfilm # acquisition (real-world workflow conundrum...)
I apologize for the length of this post, which has to do with identifying a microfilm number when this number is not on hand (i.e., we have a downloaded image or a URL, but not the film number that image came from).
A long-range solution to this pickle might be to simply include the film# (record ID) and the frame number (slide #) in the .jpg filename that downloads. This recommendation aside however, I spot to potential issues:
- I struggle to differentiate between a Microfilm# (aka "Film #" on your website), Digital Folder Number and DGS number. It appears any one of these ID-types can be entered in the "microfilm/microfiche" field to produce the desired document through your Catalogue search feature. I will demonstrate this below, but the problem is a bit more complicated. Problem: users probably don't know that Digital File Number and/or DGS can be searched directly from Microfilm field.
- Acquisition of any one of the three of these number-types can be a doozie. This is really the reason I'm writing today. I want to explain what I mean.
Let's use this URL for the scenario I will demonstrate below:
GOAL: Locate the microfilm # for the page that loads (or DGS / DFN or whatever it shall be called). My thought process was as follows, because I literally just accomplished this seemingly-simple task:
- When the page loaded, I saw "61903" in the URL, so tried searching that as a microfilm number in a separate tab. This was a throwaway idea, but I tried it first anyway. No dice, as expected.
- I then expanded "Image Index" tab at the bottom of the page that loads; a population schedule from Waterford Township, Michigan. This is actually the location of the number we need, but I presume very few researchers would discover this. Reason: a vast majority of researchers must scroll horizontally to arrive at a peculiar, the so-called "Digital File Number," which presents itself at the right-most column in a view devoted otherwise to transcribing a census sheet. Because of this, I have to assume most folks will exit-out of this view, as I did, presuming they are in the wrong place.
- I then visited the "Information" tab. Although I did not get a film number, I did spot "image 56 of 66" in the proposed citation, which simply validated, further, that when I do find the microfilm number that I'm in search of, it will indeed be, as expected, 66 frames long. (Not so!)
- Let's now assume that after running amuck for a while, we eventually do find Digital File Number 5461666 and on a whim, enter that in the "microfilm" field as a Catalog search. The results gets us really close: a catalog record titled "Michigan, 1940 population census : population schedules" is all that presents. We click it, then scroll down and down until we again arrive to "5461666," which is correctly associated with Oakland County, Michigan. We know we're in the right place! (Amusingly, though, this number is no-longer the Digital Folder Number anymore. Now it's the "DGS." Anyway, we click the camera icon, and....
- We arrive at an 814-frame reel entitled... "Film # 5461666." 66 frames were expected, 814 however present. So now we can't just locate the image number and be done with the task at hand. We now have to find the page we need.
- My method was to click BACK on my web-browser, scrolled-down to DGS 5461666 once again, and this time click the search icon. Herein is the reason I write this doozie. After I ran my name search, got my hit, then clicked the camera icon, I landed.... back in the original 66-frame microfilm that I was trying to ID initially #1 . ...the same film series that seemingly has no microfilm number, anywhere.
My solution was to then go back into the 814-slide microfilm and forge my way through it until I got what I needed; good 'ole slide # 590 (of 814).
If readers spot something I did wrong, I'd love to know what that was. Otherwise, I somewhat presume my running amok wasn't entirely unique in these instances, so I thought I'd articulate where my workflow struggles were.
Thanks for listening, and especially a huge thanks for all you do! Cheers!
From the URL you provided https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9M1-VJCT?i=55 (which says Image 56 of 66, Michigan Oakland, Waterford Township)
if you go to the top left hand corner of the webpage you will see United States Census, 1940 with an arrow (at least this is what I see with my browser)
If you click on the arrow you will see Film # 005461666 . Although it says film, I think this is the the DGS number. If you click on the film number you are taken to a larger film, where it says Image 590 of 814.
Going back to the original URL, if you go towards the bottom of the webpage and click on Information, under Catalog Record you can click on "Michigan, 1940 population census : population schedules"
which takes you through to https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/2057762
where you will see DGS 5461666 listed as Michigan (Oakland County).
The initial URL https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9M1-VJCT?i=55 is one image in a specific township in a larger area.
A DGS number stands for Digital Genealogical Society number. I think a Digital Folder number is the same thing. A microfilm number is the number of the microfilm before it was digitised. When it was digitised it got a DGS number and the latter is now the main reference number.
I, too, have been confused by being "moved" from the original microfilm collection (say the one of "1 of 66" images") to the DGS film (when suddenly "1 of 814" appears). I can understand why your post is so lengthy - the situation is difficult to describe in brief! I definitely get the gist of what you have saying - hopefully, the engineers at FamilySearch will, too, and work to a solution that will make things less confusing. I have raised a query previously about what image number should be used when referring to a record I might wish to return to at a later date.0
@Maureen: you have provided the workflow that I was unable to derive on my own. As we can see, neither did Paul W. There are two aspects of what you pointed out that I think the sofware engineers might want to look at:
- the downward-pointing triangle in the upper-left is the same icon used in the lower-left. We know that depressing the lower-left (downward-pointing) arrow/triangle "minimizes" the information we see presented. It is not unrealistic, in my mind, for other users to presume the upper-left one is either (a) not clickable or (b) would "minimize everything they are looking at.
- once clicking on that down arrow/triangle; it is certainly not intuitive, in my opinion, to presume that the film number can be clicked on---which in-turn gives us, ultimately, exactly what we want and need: a microfilm number and a true image number.
I should explain to both of you why this matters to me: I believe both microfilm # and image # are two values that are far more permanent and stable than a URL. Until I see terms like "permalink" used on FS, which is a prevalent term used by Library of Congress and other institutions for links that truly are permanent, I believe these two values should be used in place of a URL in genealogical source citations. So, getting these values identified is really important to me.
Maureen, you nevertheless taught me a trick that I was desperately searching for (admittedly, for a long time, too). Thank you so much for posting this. I do hope the engineers listen to my concern about this workflow, though, and consider NOT using abbreviations for any record identifier (DGS--what does it mean?).
Edit: Maureen, indeed you answered the DGS question as well. I've indexed a fair bit for FS over the years (and might be one of the few regular editors these days of this: https://bit.ly/3giHZKe and this: https://bit.ly/2VJ6Hd2), but I too am still learning :-).
i.e. a so-called Digital Genealogical Society number is a new one for me . But again; users should know that they can enter numbers like this in the Microfilm field, in FS catalog, to produce a specific record if they have that number on hand.0
For many digitized films/collections on FS, there are two main ways to navigate the images: using waypoints, or using digitized "films" (which are really image groups). As Maureen explained, you can switch between them using the arrow next to the first breadcrumb at the top of the image.
It is also possible to get the film number by clicking the thumbnails button (the third one in the strip of four at the top left, tooltip "Browse multiple images"). Doing so changes the URL to the film-number format: https: // www.familysearch.org/ search/ film/ 005461666?i=55 (adding spaces to prevent "helpful" forum software from obfuscating the main point). As you can see, the film number is near the end: the nine digits (padded with leading zeros as needed) just before the question mark. (Yes, the i=55 is the image number, except it starts from zero, so it's one less than what shows up in the "Image N of M" breadcrumb.)
When citing an image from FamilySearch, you need to pay attention to the method of navigation; if you're giving the waypoint image number, then you need to give all of the waypoints (for example "United States Census, 1940 - Michigan - Oakland - Waterford Township - 63-183B Waterford Township bounded by Elizabeth Lake Rd; Pontiac City limits; Voorhees Rd; also Huron Heights (part) - Image 56 of 66"), and if you're using the film number, you should identify as best as possible what is on that film (e.g. "Film # 00546166 - Image 590 of 814: Michigan, 1940 population census: population schedules, Oakland County, Waterford Township, Huron Heights; S.D. No. 17, E.D. No. 63-183B, Sheet No. 28B").0
@Julia - I very much appreciate you taking the time to explain all of this. The end-goal here, is to cite accurately. You indeed were on my same sheet of music with your explanation. Thank you!0
“Until I see terms like "permalink" used on FS, which is a prevalent term used by Library of Congress and other institutions for links that truly are permanent, I believe these two values should be used in place of a URL in genealogical source citations”
I suspect that you won’t see “permalink” used on the FS site because Family Search is a Registered ARK (Archival Resource Key) Name Assigning Authority with a NAA Number of 61903. See:
Therefor, instead of "permalink", FS uses the ARK designation for all of it’s persistent URLS. For example, in the URL that MaureenE123 referred to:
“The initial URL https://www.familysearch.org/ark61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9M1-VJCT?i=55 is one image in a specific township in a larger area”
Note the “/ark:/61903/” component of the URL. That means that any time you use that URL, it will always take you to that same image regardless of whether or not the site structure has been re-arranged. The URL structures that you are looking at are set up to support searching in the archives. For example, the concept of waypoints that Julia referred to are incorporated in those URLs.
HOWEVER, as the FS website evolves and grows, FS will likely again rearrange the structure in order to better support searching the historic records. At that point a lot of those URLs you are using may no longer resolve correctly. You need to use the ark type URLS of the final images if you want stability.
Also note MaureenE123's observation that the ark URL example she gave was "one image in a specific township in a larger area". The ark URL does not contain any of those area designations that might be used as waypoints for finding that image. It only points directly to that one image source in the archives. If a mistake was made in the way pointing structure leading to that image, then after correcting the way pointing would not change the persistent ark URL but WOULD change URLs associated with the waypoints.
When you have a source image that has been indexed, each of the index entries (sources) has its own unique ark URL. They then reference the ark URL of the image source that they were derived from. So in MaureenE123's example, if that image was indexed, each person on the image as recorded in the index would have their own unique ark URL, and they would all reference the unique ark URL of the image source that they were derived from. Those URLs must remain constant. The URL structure set up for searching does not.0
BTW, one of the types of changes recently had to do with access rights. Since some films had restricted access only because of a couple of records (or groups of records) that they contained, items on them that didn't need to be restricted were forced to be restricted. I've seen things change around where pulling sections out of the main film and listing them in smaller groups would seem to allow access to those previously inaccessible records.
I've not looked into it in any detail, but if true it could be another reason that waypoint type URLs (i.e., access specific URLs) could be changing.
Sort of like the moving staircases at Hogwarts :-)0