Saturday, September 10, 2011

The fine print wins again

I was recently reminded of a very important tip: always read the fine print.

For those of you familiar with Illinois genealogy, you'll know the website for the Secretary of State's office, which includes a few online vital records databases (found here). One of these databases is the the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, covering 1763-1900. Obviously, not all counties are covered for the whole of the time frame in the title. For one thing, not all of the counties were in existence at the same time. So the title is a little elastic on that front. But when I was wondering where a couple might have gotten married, sometime during the 19-teens, I thought I knew that this database wasn't going to be any help. Yeah, I broke that oh so important rule of not reading the fine print and not remembering that the titles don't always tell the whole story. Here's the page that I forgot to revisit while brainstorming on my latest marriage query:

http://www.sos.state.il.us/departments/archives/marrlst.html

What it is, is a county and time range table listing the availability of the county marriage records which are included in the online database. As you can see, some counties are not included at all, while others only include a portion of time within the titles' date range. The county in which I ended up finding the marriage record I was looking for, was Richland Co. Richland happens to have a date range between 1840 and 1915, well after the 1900 limit established by the title. And Richland county isn't the only one with records included in the online database well beyond 1900. The marriage records for Brown, Fulton, Jersey, Menard, Morgan, Pike, Pope, Stephenson, and Wayne counties all stretch into the 1920s within this database.

And you wouldn't know it unless you read the fine print...

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