I just returned from a run to a Connecticut town clerk’s office. I was looking at land records, but just to be safe, I asked to review the vital records for the same period. Easy right? However, the clerk’s staff couldn’t locate the books.
What happened was a bit of a surprise. I was eventually informed that the town clerk’s policy was to retype the information contained in the register. That’s not atypical. Most offices will retype older birth certificates in order to have the space to certify them. However, the register they were referencing wasn’t the original register, but a 1924 copy of a 1916 card index to the original register. I’m still cringing. Who knows how many errors were being copied or who much information was missed in their “original” records? If I ordered the record by mail, I would never have known.
Lesson learned: look very closely at any “recopied” birth certificates – and consider saving yourself the trouble and hiring someone to double check the books. A trip to the Connecticut State Library or a local office usually takes me less than three hours, including time in the archives. With access to both the deeds and vitals, I can look for the whole family. It’s always time well spent.