Fretting Over Trofatter Images on AmericanAncestors.Org

John George Trautvetter married the widow Susanna Tewksbury in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1767. The marriage is referenced in a database on titled “Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850.” It’s easy to find when searching on their website, partially because Trautvetters are easy to find in many databases.

That’s where the easiness ends.

This is the citation the website autocreates for the image:

Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).

There’s no mention in the citation of the location within Massachusetts from which the record entry comes. The database includes digital images of published vital records from all of Massachusetts–not just Salem. That’s the reason the database has the title it does, but the autocreated citation does not reference any “previously published” data for the image.
It would be helpful from a research standpoint if the citation indicated from which volume this image was taken. It’s not as if these images were dumped in one large file with nary a clue as to the original volume from which they came. This database was not created from a collection of loose papers in found in someone’s attic. It was created from previously published books with titles and volume numbers.
That information is actually right there on the search results screen. The search results screen includes:
  • database title
  • specific town publication from which the image was made
  • specific volume of that publication (if applicable)
  • page number


One can navigate to the title page of the specific volume. The title page for the Trautvetter reference is included in this post. That title page includes the original publication information.

One has to be careful when taking screen shots of online record images and using those screen shots to create derived images of the digital images for personal use. That’s how the first image in this post was created–the one that just included the Trautvetter reference.

While the citation created on the website was not perfect, I originally decided to copy it into the cropped image of the Trautvetter reference. That was when I realized that I had this image with no idea of the location from which it really came.

Massachusetts may not be the largest state in the Union, but it is composed of many places. I need that specific location. That was when I viewed the title page for the original publication and added the red text to my cropped version of the Trautvetter marriage reference. My citation on the image may not be in true Evidence Explained form, but the essential information is there.

I need to include the title of the database so that I know from where this image was obtained. I also need the original publication information so that I don’t search this book later in another format (maybe even in, heaven forbid, actual paper form) only to realize that I have already seen it.

The site does include a link to download a PDF version of the entire page. That’s helpful, but the title of the downloaded files can easily cause confusion. The auto-created title is simply:

Massachusetts_Vital Records, 1620-1850

That’s simply the title of the database which, while better than nothing, can create confusion. If multiple images are downloaded from the same database, the same title is used (with an appended number). These downloads will need to be organized as they are downloaded and perhaps, depending upon researcher preference, renamed as well.

Citation matters. Organizing your files matters. Copying and pasting information is fine, but in addition to harvesting information about the dead one needs to harvest citation information as well.

And that “C.R.1.” notation after Trautvetter’s entry?

I should have figured that out and included it on my image as well.

Stay tuned.


2 thoughts on “Fretting Over Trofatter Images on AmericanAncestors.Org

  1. ACK!! I’ve done the same thing. Go back and try to find ALL the documents I’ve gotten there? NOT in a million years because that’s how long it would take. But from now on…

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