## Meaning of source numbers in U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900

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There are 3 records in The U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 about the marriage of Luke Lea and Elizabeth Wilson, showing two different birth states for her:

• Source number: 1307.136: North Carolina
• Source number: 1307.082: North Carolina
• Source number: 23917.001: Lousiana

The similarity in the first two source numbers makes me wonder if the two entries derive from the same source (e.g., one family Bible or pedigree). Is that how source numbers work in that collection? (In any event, I know that the frequency of a claim has no bearing on its truth.)

This is a collection of records that I often tend to Ignore when Ancestry.com presents them to me as Hints. I'll be curious to see what answers you get in case I have been overlooking records to which I should have paid more attention. – PolyGeo – 2015-07-27T04:33:10.850

1@PolyGeo Consider it to be about the same value as finding someone's submitted GEDCOM file on RootsWeb or another sharing site. On his site, compiler Bill Yates says "It is a good idea to balance your efforts by spending 50% of your effort doing original research and 50% trading with other family historians." I think it is important to share information with others, but I think if you are going to spend 50% of the time away from your original research, you would be better off reading peer-reviewed genealogical journals or educating yourself 40% of the time and pursuing cousin-bait for 10%. – Jan Murphy – 2015-07-27T05:50:34.143

@JanMurphy It sounds like your assessment of those records matches my less researched impression of them - thanks for writing such a detailed answer to this question. – PolyGeo – 2015-07-27T05:57:28.837

@PolyGeo it's rather like the problem I wrote about in Catch 22: how do you know if a data provider's sub will be valuable to you — before you subscribe? -- even when you know you will be getting access to real records, there's no guarantee you'll be buying access to anything about your own family. You only find out after you pay. And in this case, you don't even know if the group sheets will have sources at all.

– Jan Murphy – 2015-07-27T06:41:26.077

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Ancestry's About U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 says:

For more information or to order an original Family Group Sheet on the Family Group Sheet Exchange, please visit Yates Publishing.

Clicking through to their website and looking at the catalogue, you can see it is arranged by surname. There is no table of sources on their site. Now what?

Searching for "Yates Publishing" and the source number --

• 1307.136 is cited on one profile for Luke Lea on WikiTree:

Source number: 1307.136; Source type: Family group sheet, FGSE, listed as parents; Birth date: 1739 Birth place: VA Marriage date: 1759 Marriage place: NC

• 1307.082 is on the same profile:

Source number: 1307.082; Source type: Family group sheet, FGSE, listed as parents; Birth date: 1739 Birth place: VA

• 23917.001 is also on that profile:

Source number: 23917.001; Source type: Pedigree chart; Birth date: 1739 Birth place: VA Marriage date: Marriage place: of LA

Source 23917.001 gets 11 other hits on Google, on WikiTree, on RootsWeb, and on someone's personal website. All of these others cite the pedigree chart, either by itself, or as part of the Ancestry database.

All of these citations lack the part you really want -- a section where it says "citing" followed by the source that was used when compiling the particular family group sheet or pedigree chart from this database. Which suggests no one has ordered the family group sheets or pedigree chart, and everyone has only seen the Ancestry version.

Seeing what form the source numbers take, I would have guessed that the number before the decimal point belongs to the individual family group sheet or pedigree chart -- and if you're lucky, maybe the part after the decimal is a source's number on a source list corresponding to that particular group sheet or pedigree. But who knows -- it might also be a reference to what person is listed. How to find out for sure?

You could try ordering the group sheets or pedigree charts from Yates Publishing, to see what format they use. Presumably you would be interested in these packets:

LEA, filed under LEA (50 sheets) $17.00 and • WILSON Batch 1, filed under WILSON (250 sheets)$67.00
• WILSON Batch 2, filed under WILSON (250 sheets) $67.00 • WILSON Batch 3, filed under WILSON (224 sheets)$61.00

The sale flyer linked to by Ancestry.com says that the listed price is for getting copies of the family group sheets on paper. For electronic delivery via PDF, the charts were being offered at 50% off.

The other thing you could try is searching for more information about the collection or publisher. I did a Google Search for "Yates Publishing" and "reviews" to find customer feedback from people who had ordered from them.

Near the top of the first page, there's a link to the blog The Ancestry Insider. In the post, Marriage Records Database, the Insider links to an online database The Computerized Ancestor where you can look up the submitter code, and discusses the makeup of the database. However, since that post was written in 2007, the lookup seems to have changed -- there are search boxes to look for ancestors or surnames but I don't see a search box for submitter codes. (See updated section after the divider line.)

Also of interest is a thread from March 1998 in the RootsWeb mailing list archive from the list PSRoots-L entitled Yates Publishing - Legit or Scam? where some subscribers on the mailing list discuss the material they ordered.

Genealogist Michael John Neill talked about being one of the contributors to the Family Group Sheets in his post Ancestry.com’s U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 (posted earlier this month, a revised version of comments he originally posted on 10 July 2012).

I know that entries for a few of my families were submitted by me in the mid-1980s and I know that my charts created during that time did not have any documentation attached to them. Most of the information I put on my charts did come from actual records or sources, but I didn’t keep track of where I obtained information. In a few cases I probably submitted information that was not documented at all [and probably only “knew” there was a marriage because the individuals had a child. That’s not quite proof]. I was about fifteen when I submitted information from my files to the company whose charts were used to create “U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900.”

Neill reminds us that this was before the age of email and the Internet, and sharing pedigree charts and family group sheets was how sharing information was done.

So -- if you order the packets -- maybe you'll get source information. Or maybe not. At least with the online database, you might be able to see who submitted the information, and use that to search for other contributions by the same people that might be online.

Is it worth your money to order the sheets? It depends on how curious you are to find out what is on them. I could see spending half of $17.00 for the LEA packet, just to see what sort of thing turned up, but when you get to the WILSON packets, I wonder if it would be a good value. Note that Yates says: NO CHECKING AVAILABLE Our prices are based on copying sheets in batches, without any searching required. We regret not being able to check our files to see if specific individuals or families are included. Even at half of the price for an electronic delivery rather than paper, that's a price of an entire book. I would not like to spend over$30 dollars for a packet of family group sheets where I had no assurance the information I wanted would be included.

I can think of a lot better ways to spend that kind of money, like getting the new edition of Evidence Explained or another basic reference for my reference library. (On the other hand, someone who was doing a one-name study for the name WILSON might find it useful to have all three batches, even at that price.)

Search results for Luke Lea and Elizabeth Wilson (no birthplace specified) on The Computerized Ancestor:

• The links "Obtain the source data for this record" send you back to the Yates Publishing catalogue page, which only offers the option of ordering by surname packet. You could try emailing them to see if they can give you the individual references if you give them the source number.

From submitter codes RW1:

• Name: LEA, Luke I
• Spouse: WILSON, Elizabeth 'Betty'
• Birth: 1739, North Carolina
• Marriage: 1759, North Carolina

From submitter code

• Name: LEA, Luke
• Birth: 1739
• Spouse: WILSON, Elizabeth
• Birth: 1739
• Marriage: 1755

There is no link or submitter code for the Louisiana search result.

If you click on the link to the submitter codes, it gives you results for all the entries submitted by that person -- 820 records for author MG1 and 2,375 records for author RW1. Scroll down past the search results to see the name and location of the submitter.

There doesn't seem to be any way to filter the results on the site to find the entry you need, but you might be able to use a Google site search to get to the entries you want. Under the column "Additional Information" most of the time it is blank, but some entries on the early pages for each author have links that refer you back to census records on Ancestry.com. I tried some of the links, and discovered that the links do not go to a specific record at Ancestry, but seem to load the global search form, so you get results similar to searching from one's own online tree at Ancestry.com.

2FYI, I put them on WikiTree. – Ellen Spertus – 2015-07-27T06:55:55.523

3@espertus Having your own information hinted back to you is a known hazard. Frustrating, isn't it? – Jan Murphy – 2015-07-27T06:58:50.773

1FYI, I did buy the Lea docs for \$8.50 and did find enough usable information (with sources) that I went on to order another similarly priced family record. – Ellen Spertus – 2015-07-30T15:46:59.823

@espertus Once you decode the source numbers, you can write up your own answer to the question. – Jan Murphy – 2015-07-30T16:35:01.953