Talk:World Archives Project: Rhode Island, Vital Extracts, Church Records, 1636-1850

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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 General 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

If you are keying Quaker records prior to 1752 the numbering of the months does not follow our typical numbering. Please refer to the chart below.

  • Here is a list of common abbreviations you may encounter.


Also for Intentions and Publishments (marriages) p = publishment and c= certificate. According to the new instructions the c date is keyed as a Marriage Certificate record.

From United Congregational Church, Little Compton, book: a = admission, b = baptism, ab = admission and baptism (on same date)

In baptism records an "a" before a date means the person was baptized as an adult.

From the first page of the Westminster Congregational Church (Providence) member list: d = death, r = withdrawn or removed (left church), c = Church, s = society (evidently people could join the Church, society or both but I'm not sure). After looking at numerous examples it seems that most or all dates are of church/society membership, even when "d" is listed.

  • We will sometimes see an Event City outside Rhode Island. In those cases only key the city, not state and/or country. Cities outside Rhode Island will not be in the dictionary so F7 will be needed.

NJ Marriage.JPG In this example "Plainfield" will be keyed.

  • The Event City can often be found in the page header, like Westerly in this example:

Grace Church.JPG

Usually, only every other page will have this header. For the other pages, that don't list the City in the header, we should not assume the Event City is the same. Then we can only get the Event City from each item and we may often need to leave the Event City blank.

Many items on the pages will list one or more cities which are not the Event City. Those cities whould not be used, even if there is no identified location for the event.

Example Marriage Record.JPG

This is a marriage record and the birth and residence locations are not to be keyed.

Common Keying Errors Found by Reviewers

Do not key Jr in given or surname fields. Per keying guidelines: In cases where the name is listed as Rev. John Smith, or John Smith, Jr, and there is not a prefix or suffix field the name should be entered with John in the Given Name field and Smith in the Surname field, without either prefix or suffix. [1] -- Wiedwoman 21:35, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Do not key any ranks that may appear

Please check that you have keyed the Event City if it appears at the top of the page. Even though the city name may appear only once on the image, if you miss it out of every record on the page, it could have a bad effect on your accuracy stats! --Katerimmer 12:05, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Deacon (abbr. Dea) and Elder are church titles, keyed as prefixes, not part of the given names.

Questions and Answers

Q: I am keying deaths from the Rhode Island, Vital Extracts, Church Records, 1636-1850. For location, I have a several records that don't list a city (page 118).

Peleg, of Clarke and Ann,drowned from Governor's Wharf, probably, 1739.
Thomas, lost on passage from Honduras, Nov.16, 1766, aged 42 years, 8 months, 16 days.

Would the "Event City" section be left blank on both of these records because they don't list a city? Or how should they be keyed?

A: We only key what is provided. If no city is named we leave the field blank. And "city" means city; not a country, state or "at sea". There is some chance that Governor's Wharf is/was a town but I doubt it, from the wording.  --Tom Ferrio 12:25, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: Regarding keying "Event Location": I've reviewed the instructions again, and want to confirm that for pages without a place-name-page header, the only event locations to be entered are those that include "AT (town)." The towns inserted after the names of brides or grooms (without at) are not to be keyed as the event location, right?

A: Yes, that's right, because the towns shown after the name of the bride or groom are their places of residence and not necessarily where the wedding took place. --Katerimmer 23:40, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

I would also say that for "birth and baptism records", the baptism happened at the church at the top of the page but that is not necessarily where the birth happened and we should not assume that it happened at the same town as the baptism. --Tom Ferrio 12:06, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: I'm keying records from "Christ Church Westerly - Communicants." When I have an entry that lists both the date received into the church AND removed from the church, do I key it as two separate entries, one for received and one for removed? Or just the one entry for received? For example: "BOSE Frances Burling, received May 1845 rem -- 1855" I'm inclined to key this as two separate entries for Frances Vose. Would that be the correct action?

A: I believe we just key one, the earlier one, as an "Other" date to capture the person and when the person was living. If there is a vital ("non-Other") date don't bother keying an Other date at all.  --Tom Ferrio 20:25, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: documenting previous marriage: the snip below is about the marriage of a widow. It would seem logical, and valuable to document the previous marriage with a keyed record, added below as an "Other" since there is no date. What do you think? --Tom Ferrio 13:46, 26 December 2012 (UTC)


A: I don't think WAP intend us to key extra records like that, sorry, just one for the marriage that the entry is actually about. --Katerimmer 23:40, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

A: I just posted a reply on the message board where I entered a record for the Marriage to the widow whose name was mentioned. I know we have discussed this in the past and I believe we have sometimes said not to key the record as it may not have occurred in the same place, etc but to preserve this event we can key an additional record. There are no dates for the marriage as none are given. MB post If you have questions about this please reply on the same thread or send me an email. Annafechter 17:29, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

I thought that was likely but this is where I get impatient with WAP sometimes. If Cornelius was one of my ancestors I would really like to find this information in a search. Without keying that extra record finding this would be very unlikely. --Tom Ferrio 12:18, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: Under a section called "Rhode Island Friends Records--Marriages," some entries have one town name preceding the date. But then there are entries with different town names following each of the bridal couple names. I've keyed the town name with precedes the date. Is this correct? Or, where there are two different towns listed, should the event location be blank? A: Without seeing the exact text I would urge caution. Most of those I have seen seem to list the towns the parents live in but do not explicitly list the marriage town. "preceeding the date" may be the same as "after a set of parents". --Tom Ferrio 12:18, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: Under the Bliss family name, I have two different Elizabeths with entries--a baptism and an other. One father is Capt William Bliss and the other is Elder William Bliss. Given the keying instructions of not including Capt or Elder in the father's name, should I treat this as a single entry of the baptism? Or should I make Elder William the father's name?

A: There is nothing to say these are the same person so my assumption would be that there are two William Blisses. That would not be a surprise as the same given names often flow through families. I have been treating Elder is a prefix and I have been keying it as such although it is not in the dictionary so it should never be entered as part of the given name. --Suzanneferrio (Tom) 20:29, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Q1: I've seen (col.) for colored on several records. Is this to be keyed?

A1: I don't think so. --Suzanneferrio (Tom) 14:15, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Q2: The instructions say not to include ranks. Please confirm that Capt is not to be keyed as is Mrs or Dr?

A2: When reading that instruction I wished that "ranks" would be explained more. But I assume it means military ranks so "Capt" is not keyed. "Mrs" is clearly keyed and I have been keying "Dr". The general keying standards (link) do not provide any guidance on what is not considered a prefix or suffix to key (hint, hint). --Suzanneferrio (Tom) 14:15, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Q3: One entry says: "Barker, Isaiah, June 10, 1820, died Aug 20, 1833" I keyed two records, one birth and one death. Is this correct? Thanks.

A3: Unless there is clear information, e.g. page header, that the first date is a birth date then we can only assume that it is an "Other" date. (On some pages I have seen it has been the baptism date or the date the person joined the church. The latter in membership listings.) Because there is a Death date for this person, the Other date would not be keyed. --Suzanneferrio (Tom) 14:15, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: The new Quaker month numbering information (link) raises another question about dates. The following example is from Quaker records:

Friends Date.JPG

Normally we would assue this is recording some uncertainty about the year and our rule is to pick the earliest year (1732 in this example). But this seems to be clearly recording that the year was 1732 in the old calendar and 1733 in the new calendar. The new Quaker month/year instructions seem to indicate that we should be adjusting the year for January and February so wouldn't that mean we should use 1733 in this example? --Suzanneferrio (Tom) 14:24, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

A: I don't understand why you say the Quaker month / year instructions indicate we should be adjusting the year for January and February? If I saw a date such as Feb 1 1732-3 I would normally assume that the year was 1732 in the old calendar (i.e. it was the February which came after December 1732 and January 1732), but that they had put 1732-3 to avoid confusion as many people aren't aware of the old calendar. If the Quaker date was given as 1d 12m 1732 we would key it as 1 Feb 1732, we wouldn't adjust the year. Or am I missing something? --Katerimmer 19:52, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Ah, now I see I was over-thinking it. Somehow I was reading the Quaker month instructions to say to put January and February in our current year numbering. On re-reading I see it doesn't say that. My error. Thanks for the help. --Suzanneferrio (Tom) 20:25, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: I am also seeing Quaker-like month numbering in records from a Sabbatarian Church (Newport), which I don't believe is Quaker, more like Seventh Day Adventists. See this clip of three dates:

Sabbatarian dates.JPG

So should these be keyed 

Jun 16 1717, Feb 21 172019 (modified after previous question answered)  and Apr 12 1718?  --Suzanneferrio (Tom) 14:57, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: In regards to death records: Is the date the date of birth or the date of the 'event' which would be the day they died? I've seen other records where it could be either one.
For example: BRYER Mary, wife of Joseph, daughter of Daniel and Wait Gould, Newport, Jan 9 1690, aged 37 years.

A: If the records are labeled as Death records, and since the age is given I would say that yes, it is a death date. When both dates are present typically they will noted with a b and d to identify the dates.

Q: I have a birth records entry which reads GOULD THOMAS, OF THOMAS AND SARAH, MIDDLETOWN, JULY 11, 1728.  The next line reads JOHN, OCT. 29, 1736.  Am I to assume (and key) that John is also the son of Thomas & Sarah born in Middletown?  Or do I only key John's name and birthdate as seen?

A:We have decided that the parents need to be copied down until the next record where parents are given.
Attached is an image that I have marked with numbers showing each new set of parents.

(previous discussion here has been summarized for Keying Helps section above and removed.)

Q. I have a list of names along with dates that follow a "b." At first I thought it meant birth, but it became apparant that there were too many multiple births (quintuplets, etc.). Then I determined that it must mean baptized. There are also "a."s, which I thought meant about, but now I am finding dates that follow "ab.". What do all these mean?

A: I believe the a's could stand for "aged".

Q. Regarding my question on abbreviations, here is an excerpt from page 35:  Using the suggested abbreviations, I think it is highly unlikely that there was a set of Octuplets, followed by a set of sextuplets. These are prevalent on the surrounding pages.  All these children of John Wood, including John Jr., are followed by a John, (no parent(s) given.  They are all "born" on the same "aged?" day.  I suggest that the "b" refers to baptism and the last "John" is the father of the preceding individuals and is being baptized at the same time.  I also suggest that the "a" may stand for something along the lines of "admitted into the church", or maybe some other type of of religious commitment.  Ideas??


On the left page you have "VITAL RECORD OF RHODE ISLAND", and on the right page is "UNITED CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH-LITTLE COMPTON.".

Here is some more fuel to add to the fire:


I get quite a few "wife of " so and so's. What is that about?  And I really don't understand the fourth entry from the bottom in the clip above.  This appears to be more evidence that "b." is being used for Baptized in this book.  Also, do we key the date as seen when it is 1748-9, etc.?

A: In regard to your question about entering the year range - the field help states to use the first year given.
And the fourth entry up is stating that Mary, (the surname would be the surname given at the beginning of this section of names) the daughter of Joseph and Mary was baptized by Mr. Campbell at Tiverton. There are two possibilities -
1. The first daughter named Mary passed away and they named the next daughter Mary as well.
2. There are two sets of parents named Joseph and Mary.

A: I found the same book on (link). Here is the header on the first page of that section:

Little Compton 1.JPG

So "a" is when admitted to the church. "ab" if if the person was baptised and admitted on the same day.


A: Excellent!  Now if we could just get those added to the drop-down list.
A: "Baptism" is in the list. I have been using "Other" for "admission", "received", "letter" etc. that I am seeing. But I am not entering multiple records for a person if they are only "Other" records (like Mary Valentine's letter date below):

Mary Valentine.JPG

Here I entered one "Other" record for James, to capture that name, and one "Death" record for Mary. I did not bother with an "Other" record for Mary for the letter since it wouldn't help anyone for searching, once we have captured her name in another record. Is that ok?

Q. More abbreviation questions: In the following clip you will find "dr."s, "d."s, and sometimes both together.  "d." cannot indicate "died" in this case, as several entries have both "d." and "died" with two different dates. Perhaps you could find a complete listing of abbreviations particular to this book.


A: I used your link and finally found the answer to the question above, regarding d., dr, and b. in this section.  See clip below:


Q:The following excerpt has a lot of information.

Mother Surname.JPG

It seems perfectly clear to me that I can/should key the mother of William and David as "Mary Harris". This all seems to read like a paragraph. Or is that inferring too much? No, not inferring too much. :)

On the other hand the following excerpt is structured the same but does not include "his wife" and "their children".

No his wife.JPG

So for this one I list the mother of Sarah et al as "Phebe G Peckham". Although it's pretty obvious that she is "Phebe G Lockwood" the data does not explicitly say that. Ok?

Since first writing this question a couple days ago I have seen this structure very often, listing the parents followed by the children. So now I have started keying e.g. the mother of Sarah as "Phebe G Lockwood" rather than "Phebe G Peckham" as I believe the book intends that to be clear. Is this ok or is it inferring too much?

A: You're correct, Phebe G Lockwood is how the mother should be keyed.Annafechter 12:33, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: In working on marriage records, I have encountered many instances where the bride's maiden name (and her parents' last name) is not given.  In that case, do we assume that the groom's last name should be used for every one in that grouping, or do we leave the surname fields blank for bride and her parents?

A: In this situation we would not assume their surnames. The only cases in which we would assume surnames are
1. When the child's name is listed in full but the parents names are not
2. When the parents' full names are listed but the child's surname is not

Q: Are pages entitled Intentions (to marry, I assume) to be keyed as Marriages or Other?   Also, on adjoining pages to Intentions, where the heading does not state the type of event, but it's identical to Intentions, what should the Event type be? 

A: According to the updated project instructions Intentions should be classified as a Marriage Certificate event type. In regard to the pages where an event type isn't noted these would also be classified as Other event type.

Surely the Marriage Certificate event type only applies when it is shown as c for certificate - if it is just a Marriage Intention I don't think it would be keyed as a Marriage Certificate. --Katerimmer 23:42, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: When church membership lists several dates which date is used - the oldest or the newest?

A: You would use the first date listed.

Q: If a person is listed as "his wife" referring to the man listed directly above, is he keyed in as the spouse?  In the reverse is she keyed in as a spouse for him?

A: Yes, you would enter them as each others' spouse.

Q:  If a marriage is first listed under the wife's name and then directly below the marriage is listed again for the husband am I correct in that it is only keyed in once?

A: No, you should key it twice. --Katerimmer 23:29, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: On a page opposite what says "birth and death" there is an entry that states "GREENE William, son of Samual and Mehitable, both dec. of Johnston 3,6m, 1787". DOes this mean that William Green died on 3, 6m, 1787 and that Samuel and Mehitable are both deceased?

A: Exactly, the parents predeceased William. Nothing extra to key. --Tom Ferrio 20:36, 30 December 2012 (UTC)


If you have a suggestion or would like to make an addition to the project page, click “EDIT” and post your suggestion 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.

(Three questions here moved to the Q&A section. --Suzanneferrio (Tom) 14:18, 23 December 2012 (UTC)) 

(A question here moved to the Q&A section.  --Tom Ferrio 12:26, 29 December 2012 (UTC) )