1676 [the year]
I have a challenging problem with this document. Dates are stated as days, month as in the number of the month and the year. In our world the 10th month is easily Oct. But this was, I think , the time when the first month of the year was April, meaning that the 10th month would then be January. Do we adjust for that?
the document I have is : UK, England, Lancashire—Nonconformist Church Records, 1647–1996 [Part B]
I'm guessing this is a Quaker record- they believed that the names assigned to the months and weeks are inappropriate/unChristian.
The UK year legally started on 25 March until 1751, from 1752 onwards the year began on 1 January. In September 1752 11 days were deleted to bring the calendar in line with the rest of Europe.
This page from WikiTree may be helpful: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Quaker_calendar_dates2
I wouldn't overthink which month to index based on the calendar year, unless the project instructions ask us to do so.
Most indexers and reviewers are going to the current calendar and follow the field help which says:
When the month was written as a number, choose the corresponding month from the drop-down list. For example, the month 12 would be indexed as Dec.
There is nothing in the project instructions that say to calculate the date based on the Julian or any other calendar.
For the purposes of indexing, it really doesn't matter if someone got married in January or October of 1676 since we can't use months in our searches, only years. Once the researcher finds the record and locates the image, if they are so inclined, they can figure out the true month.2
I strongly disagree with this. Many researchers will rely on the index and not check the image. So it's important to get it right.2
We are not to calculate because we can get it wrong as well as a researcher then we would be misleading the researcher. Good researchers will always want to look at the actual image and do their own surmising and calculating.1
If that is the approach FS is taking, then I think Indexers should be instructed not to enter in months or days if there is any doubt. Why you would instruct Indexers to index months in a way that pre-1752 will often/usually be incorrect ? Therefore in the Quaker example being discussed, only the year would be Indexed.
All Indexing involves "calculating" and "interpreting". Seeing '9br' or 'Novmbr' and interpreting it as 'November' is fundamentally not that much different as seeing '1782, 11th month' and interpreting it as 'November 1782'.2
In the projects where they want us to interpret things, like 9br or November, there is an instruction in the project instructions and sometimes the field helps. In this project there is no instruction to interpret any months. So, we should not. Even if the researcher relies on the index, does it make a lot of difference if someone who married 356 years ago, or even more recently (268 years ago), got married in January or October?3
I appreciate all the points of view. After doing a whole lot of calendar research I realized it was unsolvable because I couldn't tell what the beliefs of the original writers were. Every religion followed its own devices. After going nuts trying to figure it out, my final resolution was: I don't think it is helpful to transcribe any of the ideas unless you can footnote it as to what you know about the author. So I went with present day months to define it.1
Interesting; what the researcher will do or not do. Most people are lazy in their work. [why look it up] an accept the stated dates, names and spellings. I do not, because of the high frequency of error. Most people do not trouble themselves to research the local or even general history of a place or time period-- making false judgements and merging people only because their names align, and maybe parents as well. If they would pay attention they would realize that parents named a new child after a recently dead one and even after not dead ones quite often. So those dates matter a lot. On the view that "who cares?- it was a long time ago" statement-- the direct family may not care a whit, but when your family is merged with another of similar content- it will matter. In England and the continent [and later America] whole villages were made up of relatives having the same surname, and naming their children after parents of the past. So cousins who were born a month apart and have the same name and their parents may even appear to be the same. could be from two different households and if they did not distinguish them by "of Medford" or "of Chorley" you end up with a giant mess. Every detail and every date, if accurate, can sort out the mess.1
I didn't say "who cares? it was a long time ago". I said what difference does it make if it is January or October of the same year. There is really nothing we can do as indexers to help with lazy researchers who don't proceed on to look at the images and verify that it is their family member. But, thank goodness there are people like you, @Shu-nay, who do and sort out the mistakes. I have this happen on my tree branch sometimes because there were male cousins with the same given name, living in the same vicinity, who also named their children the same names after their grandparents - one of those children is my great grandfather. All of the kids are very close in age. So, I understand your compelling argument, but, the instructions still don't say to calculate the months based on the time period. Some projects do, but, I cannot see where this one of them.1
- I really wish people wouldn't make assumptions about "lazy researchers" who can't be bothered to look at an original source to figure out what an indexer meant! Over and over again, I have found information in an index, but when I've tried to see the original record, it can't be viewed for one reason or another (and they are many).
- For example, I'm currently working on the exact same project mentioned above (UK, England, Lancashire—Nonconformist Church Records, 1647–1996 [Part B]) and the first comment in the PIs under "What to Remember about This Project" reads as follows: The completed index and images may have restrictions (my emphasis). In other words, many researchers, lazy and diligent, will not be able to see the original record. If I write February instead of April when the original says 2nd month, I will be writing inaccurate information, and many researchers will only have that to rely on.
- Certainly, Quakers were the most prominent group to use numbers for months, rather than names, but they were not the only ones. I've come across months written as numbers in many "conformist" registers too. And we do it today, don't we? Everyone knows 9/11 means the eleventh of September . . . at least if you live in America. If you live in the UK or many other countries, it means the ninth of November. If you were indexing a record where the date was given as numbers only, you would need to "interpret" the date based on where the document was written, wouldn't you? So why not "interpret" the date based on when it was written too? In 1676, the second month was April, not February.
- Yes, the Month Field Help for this project says "When the month was written as a number, choose the corresponding month from the drop-down list. For example, the month 12 would be indexed as Dec." But the field help is just plain wrong. The project spans records from 1647 to 1996--and for more than a hundred years of that period, 12 was not Dec. The field help fails to take that into account.
- OK, rant over. I'll do what the field help says, even though I believe (as a researcher) that incorrect information--whatever it is--is worse than no information at all. But PLEASE don't categorise people as lazy researchers, or salve your indexing consciences, by saying "Oh they should look at the original record anyway." Many, many times that is just not possible and we as indexers and reviewers are those researchers' only hope for getting to the truth.
Most often we are told to index what we see. It is not our job to do research ie: figure out what it all means. It is our job to index the fields most likely to help the researcher find the document they need. It is their job to understand and use the information accurately.
We are all researchers at heart aren't we. That desire to do more with the data is hard to ignore! Still that is not our job as indexers as much as we might enjoy doing it!
Thank you all for your thoughts and desire to help! Much appreciated!2
I must agree with @Mary Pollington. Researching how months 1-12 correspond to the months January- December is not, in my opinion, over-interpreting records. It's vital that we know when events took place, especially when a different calendar is used. For this context, getting the months wrong could mean inaccurately calculating gaps between children's births and between a marriage and birth. Researchers could incorrectly rule out a baptism as being from their family because they incorrectly believed the gap between 2 children was less than 9 months, or because it appeared a child was born before the parent's marriage. In the last case, they could alternatively have a false impression that the parents had a child out of wedlock.
With all due respect, this is a case when following the usual principles and rules will lead to errors, confusion and faked history. The sensible thing to do is to acknowledge that the usual rules did not take this into consideration, therefore a different rule is needed for these special circumstances.
No-one objects to Indexing "January" when a 19th century (for example) record talks of "the 1st month". So why would we object to Indexing "March" at a time when the 1st month was in fact March. If FamilySearch wants us to not draw conclusions from numbered months, they should at least be consistent and apply that rule to all time periods. So if a record says "The 24th of the 8th month, 1901" we should index that as Day: 24, Month: [Unknown], Year: 1901.1
I don't disagree with you, but, the instructions do not indicate that the conversions should be made. As I mentioned in another post, there is a French project that sends the indexer to a calendar converter. This one does not. Obviously, we use the current calendar when a record says 24th of the 8th month, 1901 as per the field helps.
But, also, if as reviewers you feel most comfortable switching the months, I'm sure it isn't going to send the batch into a second review. So, maybe follow your hearts.2
There has been an instruction added to the project:
- England adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Prior to 1752 in England, the year on the Julian calendar began in March and continued to the next February. This would mean that the 3rd month in 1730 would be May. In the Gregorian calendar adopted in 1752, the 3rd month would be March. When indexing records for this project, please convert the Julian calendar dates to their Gregorian calendar equivalents. Click here for help converting dates.
Hope this is helpful!2
Yes the managers do pay attention to these posts as illustrated here! Thank you for noting that, Melissa.0
Using the "Click Here" conversion would, for instance, convert the Julian date of 26th December 1624 to 5th January 1625; however where the document gives a date of 26th day of the 12th month 1624, should it be converted to a): 5th January 1625, or in accordance with the Church calendar to b) 7th March 1624, or c) 7th March 1625? Curious.1
Since the twelfth month in the Julian calendar is February, the 26th day of February 1624 would be (B) 7 March 1624 using the conversion calculator.0
What a fascinating thread! The various points raised only appear to confirm my opinions relating to how flawed FamilySearch project instructions can be - and completely out of line with indexing practices on every other "genealogy" website I've used.
Currently, many of the projects appear to involve "indexing for the sake of indexing" - i.e., taking no serious consideration of how difficult they will be for researchers to decipher once they end up on the main website. And, no, in many cases the originals documents / images will prove very difficult to come by, so the researcher will have no opportunity to work out the precise detail for themselves.
I'm completely okay with just a year being shown where there is some ambiguity about the precise date, but if it is completely obvious, say, that the tenth month means December rather than October, surely there is no issue of "interpretation" and the indexing should be carried out as comprehensively as possible?0
@Paul W I am curious when you say FS is "completely out of line with indexing practices on every other Genealogy website" you have used. What other websites are you using that have indexers? Ancestry, My Heritage, and Find My Past are all using the indexes created by volunteers at FamilySearch.1
Exclusively? If so, they must tweak their search engines to enable results to be found much easier than in FS.
As an example, I don't know of other websites where you cannot search for a "John Smith", because he has been indexed as just "John". (You will be familiar with project instructions - that I have been made aware of here - that insist only the child's first name should be indexed, if only the father's / parents' surnames are recorded in the original document.)
But seriously, you are not surely suggesting that Ancestry, FMP, et al, are relying completely on the efforts of FS volunteers in their indexing, are you?0
@Paul W You piqued my curiosity. I didn't think Find My Past or My Heritage used volunteers, but thought perhaps you knew differently and could expand on their indexing practices.
I know that Ancestry is not relying completely on FS volunteers. They have their own volunteers and also use paid indexing firms. I have looked at the Ancestry World Archives Project and they follow the same pattern in their projects - type what you see, don't type what you don't see. Their basic guidelines are very similar and they have individual instructions for each project. There are also posts on their message board where folks are concerned about only typing a first name. But, certainly I have no indexing experience with their projects. I thought maybe you could lend some insider info on how they index.2
Sorry, I confess I don't!
I know I must come across as over-critical of FS indexing practices, when some of the problems probably develop further down along the overall process of getting the indexed records online. However, I am just viewing things from a personal (perhaps selfish) perspective, of being the person who is sometimes left with less detail than I feel I am getting from other websites. My main interest is in English genealogy and if small websites like FreeCEN / FreeREG can produce such excellent detail (and surely also be subject to record custodians' conditions) I am just disappointed in the constraints of project instructions ("you mustn't index this or that"), especially where there are no corresponding images to consult to verify the details ourselves.
As far as indexers themselves are concerned, I genuinely have the utmost admiration for their wonderful efforts. I used to struggle reading the familiar handwriting in my aunt's letters, so am amazed how most of you can be so accurate in your transcribing of cursive writing!0
Yes, a fascinating thread. The one thing that comes across clearly to me, is the importance of enabling the researcher to see a copy of the original document, in addition to the index. The index is a very useful starting point BUT it is subject to the interpretation of the indexer and the instructions the indexer receives. There is definitely a need for all records to be available for researcher interpretation - if it has been available for indexing then surely it should be possible for it to be available for online viewing?0
It is available for online viewing, but, you also may have to visit a FamilySearch History Center, or a subscription service like Ancestry. When you click on view the image it will either take you to the image, or tell you that it is on a partner site:
To view these images do one of the following:
- You may be able to view this image by visiting one of our partner's sites or the legal record custodian (fees may apply).
Public libraries often have subscriptions to the sites where fees apply.0
Just to clarify, there are many records for which no image is available online. One English county in particular appears to not entered an agreement with any of the major websites (including FamilySearch), as it seems to want researchers to pay money directly to the record office, in order they can obtain a copies of their documents.
The only other way of viewing the originals is by travelling to the record office itself - okay for me maybe (I live about 50 miles away), but not so if you live outside of England. It then becomes quite expensive to order all the parish register copies you require that reference your relatives!1
@Paul W Thanks for adding that possibility. I think usually you are directed to the entity's website for further instructions on how to obtain the images. Governments not only like to make money when someone wants a record, but, sometimes their laws are such that they just aren't available to the general public. I have read about places where you have to prove your relationship to the individual in order to have access to the records.0
I agree with Paul W. Many a time, even through Ancestry or FindMyPast (FMP), the image is not available. The relevant record offices for my research areas, whilst they are in the UK, are some 250-300 miles away, so no they are not feasible. And there are only so many times that you can ask a favour of area family research associations. And the nearest FamilyHistorySearch facility is up to 2hrs away and only opens (or was last time I looked pre-Covid) half a day a week, by appointment. I have also found that some images that used to be accessible from Universities/Record Offices are no longer since FamilySearch became involved in their records.
Most recently, the England 2021 census is only available through FMP at a fee - ok a few times, and whilst it is free if visiting Kew, that is a long and expensive journey.
I am sure that there are many in a similar situation to myself. In these days of a magnificent internet, Please, online viewing for all does surely need to be the way forward.0
Oops, meant the 1921 Census in the last post. Getting late.0
Genealogy is a multi-billion dollar business. I would bet that going forward there will be less free online viewing, not more. FamilySearch cannot help to do anything to stop that.0