My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Farnham and the Connecticut Barbour Collection

Any researcher doing Connecticut genealogy research, especially prior to around 1850 has probably heard of the Barbour Collection. They are the Vital Records for Connecticut.  Over the years, I have found my ancestor, JOANNAH RUTTY, wife of HENRY FARNHAM listed in two different sources, and both correctly named the Barbour Collection.

In an attempt to explain, I will show copies of the two sources for the above individual. When I first began researching this line, I used the Barbour Collection at the New England Historic Genealogical Society's Library (NEHGS). This collection consists of about 110 maroon bound books, one for a town or city in Connecticut, but not all towns are in this series (photos taken at NEHGS).

Within these books, the surnames are in alphabetical order, then the names, indicating whether it is a birth, marriage or death, and followed by the volume and page number.  Unfortunately, when I first began sourcing this name and using the book for Killingworth, Connecticut, I just used the page number (Pg. 31) from the book as the source. The page I used is shown below, and Joannah's name has an arrow by it.
So imagine my dismay when a new series of the Barbour Collection was published, about eight years ago, not all at once, but one or two books at a time.  These blue books are set up the same way as the original maroon ones, but may contain more than one town.  I think there are 52 books in all. 

They are much smaller and easier to read. Surnames are in bold and all-capped, everything is cleaner, no crossed out typo errors. However happy I was to see these new books, imagine my surprise when I realized my past sourced entries weren't agreeing with the new books. Not only did I now have a huge number of Killingworth sources incorrect, but I probably had thousands for the entire state! My new JOANNAH FARNHAM'S death is now on page 34 not 31. And, there was a correction to her death date, no longer was it August 22, 1689, it was now August 11. The death date was easy to change, but not for all the incorrect page numbers. 
What did I do about all the thousands of incorrect page numbers?  I did what I should have done in the very beginning.  Instead of the page number, I manually went back and put in the volume and page number for that record. This is another hard lesson I learned, don't assume that the page number is always going to be the same for records.  Another publication may come along with pretty much identical bits of information.  So please don't be like me, but think ahead, and try to find out where the original information was obtained from and  try to use that.

In closing, I was going to discuss the background of the Barbour Collection, but already this is too long. However, here is a photo of the original record; I obtained from the town hall in Killingworth. You can clearly see that Joanna Farnham died on 11th Day of August 1689 (the tape is under her name).


Wendy Hawksley said...

The Barbour Collection is one of the resources on which I have relied quite heavily when researching my Connecticut ancestors. Great post!

Barbara Poole said...

Hi Wendy, Thank you for your comment and compliment. We are lucky that Connecticut has such great records.

C. R. Whitmer said...

Very nice write up and very nice site- Barbour is definitely a great resource....

However, Ancestry's Barbour is not complete and is missing some towns. For instance two of the oldest towns in CT, Wethersfield and Simsbury are not included on the Ancestry site. (At least I have not been able to find them on the site, but I know they exist as I use them in hard form quite regularly). This could lead some researchers to assume (incorrectly) that the Barbour collection does not include Wethersfield or Simsbury- which would be unfortunate.

Barbara Poole said...

C. R. Whitmer, Thank you for writing and telling me about Ancestry and their Barbour collection. I don't use Ancestry very much, as I rely on the above mentioned books. I hope to visit Wethersfield this summer. Do you have the Farnham surname?
I'm glad you found my blog and thanks for the compliment. Success to you.

Anonymous said...

I agree it's a great resource. However, we've (fellow researchers looking at the Standish and Huntingtons in the state) have found numerous inconsistencies due to poor transcription. And Barbara's post here proves that problem - there is no mistaking that 11 for 22 so how did that happen? I only point it out to say that we found a fair amount of "liberty" had been taken in early transcriptions and the originals are still available for consult - and the Mansfield/Storrs folks were super helpful checking for us. Happy searching folks,
Andrew Timleck

Barbara Poole said...

Andy, thanks.
The reason I posted this 6 years after I originally posted it is because a new and excellent article was put online. In this piece, the writer included Ancestry! Of course, with errors. Ancestry hadn't yet gotten a hold of these books for publication when I did my piece. You might enjoy reading whatThe Ancestry Insider wrote.