Talk:World Archives Project: Massachusetts, Vital Records, 1700-1850

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Feel free to add to or edit information in this discussion tab as necessary. Please take time to become familiar with the World Archives Keying Standards and be sure to read all instructions on the main project page. (Please note that in case of a discrepancy, project level instructions always trump general keying standards.)

Extra Keying Helps


Common Keying Errors Found by Reviewers


Please remember that we do not key records where there is only a name/names and no date, nor do we key records that only have a date and no name/names

Please remember that records of intentions of marriage should be treated the same as actual marriage records.

Please remember that we are not inferring anything on this project. If parents are listed as John and Mary, do not put in surnames of child as parents surnames.

The city listed in the header is the city the birth was registered in and not the birthplace of the child. Birthplace is typically shown following the word "b" or "in".

Records that do not have a given name should still be keyed with the surname and date listed.

Please remember to key the gender when there are indicators. On the other hand, please do not infer gender when there are no indicators.

Questions and Answers

If you have a keying question that is not answered on the project page or in any of the information above, click “EDIT” and ask it here. (If you click on Rich Editor you won't have to worry about formatting your entry.) Then click “WATCH” at the top right on this page and you will be notified via email when an update has been made.

I am finding entries that are in this format: Green, Hannah, d. Charles S., Dec. 16, 1841. Brown, Charles, ch. Sally, July 23, 1811. Since we are not supposed to infer gender, how are we to index this? In my opinion Charles would be the father in one, and Sally would be the mother in the other.


I have the following entry for Massachusetts Vital Birth Records: Baker, Sarah, ch. Job and Rachel, Dec. 29, 1798. [Sarah W., C.R.] I am wondering who Sarah W. is and do I index her?

A: [Sarah W., C.R.] is just another form of the name of the primary person. There should not be an extra name indexed. mccallapeterson (talk)

For the Massachusetts Vital Birth Records, is the name of the town at the top of the page entered as the birthplace? If so, what does the "in Stockbridge" in the following record mean? "Burghardt, Catharine, d. Lonson N. and Catharine, Apr. 13, 1849, in Stockbridge."

A: The town at the top of the page is the town the birth was registered in. We do not key that as the birthplace. In your example given, Stockbridge is the birthplace. Sometimes it will just have a "b" in front of the town name or the word "in". --816spider (talk) 17:13, 3 February 2017 (MST)

For the Massachusetts Vital Marriage Records, do we record marriage intentions? I am also finding on marriage records surnames being listed as the women's maiden name.

A: Yes, intentions of marriage should be treated the same as marriage records. Key the surname/maiden surname as seen on the image. Thank you! mccallapeterson (talk)

Would Sam[ue]ll be keyed as Samuell? I did not see this addressed in the Keying Standards.

A: Correct, key as "Samuell". mccallapeterson (talk)

Got the abbreviation Eld. Figure it stands for Elder? This is a prefix correct?

A: Correct, key as seen into the prefix field. mccallapeterson (talk)

How do I index this: Anthony (surname for this section) Hannah, d. Daniel, merchant, and Mariah, Aug. ---, 1843. [Hannah Maria, d. Daniel B. and Maria L. (Winslow), Aug. 22, P.R.19.] Do I index two separate records or combine the info into one record - as they appear to be for the same people.

A: Given Name: Hannah Maria Surname: Anthony Gender: F Father Given: Daniel B Mother Given: Maria L Mother Maiden Name: Winslow Event Month: Aug Event Year: 1843 --816spider (talk) 00:32, 31 January 2017 (MST)

What does dup. mean? Example: Grainger (see Granger), David [dup. Granger], s. Noah and Rebeca [dup. Rebecah], Nov. 4, 1796. Almost looks like it is denoting an alternative spelling?

A: Dup means duplicate. There is a duplicate record in file for the same individual with different spelling. On this one you are indexing Grainger, David; with parents Noah and Rebeca. --816spider (talk) 00:26, 31 January 2017 (MST)

I have an image that states Westport Births at the top and most of the listings are births. Several of the listings actually look like deaths in this format: (this is in a section with Allen as the surname of the first person then all other persons in that section only list given names) William G., h. Nancy S., ----, 1816, G.R.3. Do I index it as a death, even though it is in a section of births, or do I skip it? Or do I add a separate section since we need to select a form type?

A: No, this is still a birth. It is saying William G Allen, husband of Nancy S was born in 1816. It looks odd because it doesn't have his parents names, just his wife's name. --816spider (talk) 18:10, 30 January 2017 (MST)

Do we still index a record with a name and only a year? Also, if we come across a record we don't index, do we blank that entry or just skip it and continue to the next line?

A: Please still index a record with any part of the date available. Please skip the records that won't be indexed; there is no need to blank that entry for this project. Thanks! Gigivs (talk) 10:47, 30 January 2017 (MST)

I have entries that lack a month and instead say something like 3 mo. For example, "Hannah, d. Isaac and Phebe, 15th, 4 mo. 1791, c.r." Are they referring to April in that example?

A: When I was keying, I 'assumed' it meant 15th day of Apr 1791'. Hopefully, that's correct.
A: That is correct! --816spider (talk) 17:13, 3 February 2017 (MST)

I am keying birth records that have an unusual abbreviation that is not listed in the instructions. Example: Roberts, D. S., enrl. May 1, 1863, a. 24. I am thinking this is enrolled. If correct, they enrolled in something on May 1, 1863 at the age of 24. I would not key this since we do not calculate birth dates and this is not a valid date. Correct?

A: You are correct! If there is not a birth, baptism, marriage, death, or burial date, the record can be ignored.

Suggestions/Additions

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