Copies of Copies, Citation and Source Evaluation with FamilySearch

In order to determine the reliability of information obtained from a source, you need to know the number of times it has been copied and the mechanism of the copying.  Only then can you track back to the original and establish the provenance of the information.  This week’s entry in the 50 Marriage Mondays series features my 3x great-grandparents.  I obtained the information from a photocopy sent to me by a fellow researcher and family member (Relative B).  The copy quality is not great and I can’t read the witnesses names.  Relative B annotated the page with the location.  It appears to be a copy of parish register with details filled in on a pre-printed form:

Bride: Sally Parkes Amis
Groom: John Pearson Wilson
Date: 10 February 1831
Location: Kingswinford, Staffordshire

Where did Relative B get her copy from?

She lived in America, sent the photocopy in 2001, and marked other documents with reference file numbers, but omitted such a reference from this copy.  The reference numbers have since been identified as the file numbers for Family History Library (FHL) microfilms.  So her most likely source is a FHL microfilm.

Which microfilm?

There are two approaches to determining the microfilm number using the Familysearch website, search the index and consult the catalogue.  This marriage appears once in a search of the index and the entry includes a citation:

“England, Marriages, 1538–1973 ,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Jan 2013), John Pearson Wilson and Sally Parkes Amis, ; citing Kingswinford,Stafford,England, reference ; FHL microfilm 435778, 435779.

FamilySearch index entry for marriage of Sally Parkes Amis and John Pearson

FamilySearch index entry for marriage of Sally Parkes Amis and John Pearson Wilson

Alternatively, a Place Name search of the FamilySearch catalogue for Kingswinford, gives 11 results of church records.  Of these, 6 appear to include marriages from 1831.  St. Mary’s Church, Chapelry of Brierley Hill, and Holy Trinity Church are represented with a mixture of parish registers, bishop’s transcripts, published transcripts and CD-ROM.  Further examination of the catalogue contents narrows it down to this:

Title & Author Relevant content & Format File number
Parish registers and miscellany for Kingswinford, Staffordshire, 1603-1914; author: Church of England. St. Mary’s Church (Kingswinford, Stafford) Marriages 1828-1853 (4 v.) 1040005
Bishop’s transcripts for Kingswinford, 1666-1857; author: Church of England. Parish Church of Kingswinford (Staffordshire) Baptisms, marriages and burials, 1813-1822. 435778
Parish registers of the Church of St. Mary, Kingswinford, Worcestershire : baptisms, marriages and burials, 1760-1837; author: Peers, E. S. Marriages, 1760-1837; index on last fiche. (9 fiches); Book on Fiche 6202504
St. Mary Kingswinford parish registers; authors: Birmingham and Midland Society for Genealogy and Heraldry Marriages 1603-1837; CD-ROM

The BMSGH CD, published in 2006, and the Peers book, also published by BMSGH on microfiche in 2002, are transcripts published too late to be Relative B’s source.

So, that leaves the marriage register and bishop’s transcript microfilms.  Notice that the index citation gives the film number 435778, the Bishop’s Transcript number.  I can’t be sure of Relative B’s search strategy, but it is more likely that she used the index to access the Bishop’s Transcript than browsed the Marriage Register page by page.

Where are the Original Records?

According to the FamilySearch catalogue, the Bishop’s Transcript was filmed from “original records in the Gloucester City Library, England”, and the film containing the Marriage Register (and a disparate collection of other records) derives from “originals at the Central Library, Dudley, Worcester and at the Staffordshire County Record Office”.  The first location sounds odd as Gloucester is not in the same county and I expect Bishop’s Transcripts to reside in County or Ecclesiastical archives.  The second is not specific to the marriage register, leaving me none the wiser which repository actually holds the register.

As Kingswinford is in the county of Staffordshire, the Staffordshire Record Office is a likely repository.  Their helpful Guides to Sources includes a downloadable list of the locations of Staffordshire Parish Registers and Bishop’s Transcripts.  Original Kingswinford Parish Registers are at Dudley Archives, microfiche parish registers are at Staffordshire Record Office and Bishop’s Transcripts are at Lichfield Record Office, the official repository for the Diocese of Lichfield.

Source Evaluation and Citation

How do I cite my sources for the marriage of Sally and John?  I have two sources, the photocopy from Relative B and the index entry.

The index entry citation provided by FamilySearch gives sufficient information to retrieve it, but is incomplete as it lacks useful indication of its derivation.  You have to go and look up the file number to find out. In August 2012, The Ancestry Insider commented in FamilySearch Citation Report Card, that citations for collections that contain from multiple archives still need considerable work making the file number links automatically to create complete, genealogically sound citations.

To reflect that the index entry is at least three copies from the original I propose the following citation:

“England, Marriages, 1538–1973 ,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 Jan 2013), entry for John Pearson Wilson and Sally Parkes Amis; citing microfilm 435778, Family History Library, Salt Lake City; citing Church of England, Kingswinford Parish (Staffordshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts, 1666-1857.

The photocopy citation is more tricky, because I am not certain if it is a copy of the Bishop’s Transcript or Parish Register.  How would you cite it?

© Sue Adams 2013


3 Comments on “Copies of Copies, Citation and Source Evaluation with FamilySearch”

  1. […] Copies of Copies, Citation and Source Evaluation with FamilySearch […]


  2. […] have previously pondered citations. What do you make of these examples: Copies of Copies, Citation and Source Evaluation with FamilySearch Citation and Verification or ‘Where the hell did I get this […]


  3. […] I could also print copies for the relatives who don’t do computers. I have received photocopied records from relatives, such as the example discussed in Copies of Copies, Citation and Source Evaluation with FamilySearch. […]


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