Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday's Tip: The NLI Parish Registers & IFHF: Working in tandem

The National Library of Ireland, Dublin City, County Dublin.
©irisheyesjgg.
No doubt the launch of the National Library of Ireland's Roman Catholic Parish Registers website has elicited reactions running the gamut from joy to despair for researchers mining the registers for ancestors and other relations. If you have access to the website of the Irish Family History Foundation (IFHF), a.k.a. Roots Ireland, then you may find using the site in tandem with the parish registers swings the pendulum of your emotions more toward the side of joy.

Over the years I have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to consult the microfilm in person at the National Library in Dublin, and in doing so have been able to trace my maternal tree back to the 1740s. Although the poor condition of some registers remains a nightmare in terms of the search — using the inverse image function makes them a little more legible — I am grateful to have the registers now so easily accessible online. Sitting at my desk in the comfort of my office, with a nice steaming 'cuppa' tea in hand, while negotiating my way around the wonderfully intuitive site, makes searching a most pleasant task.

Online access also makes it possible to view the digitized microfilm images of the registers in tandem with the transcriptions of the IFHF, simply by opening a second window on the browser on my Mac. Where possible, comparing the original images with the transcriptions has proven to be a worthwhile exercise. Be sure to look in the lower left hand corner of pages for parish registers, where the NLI wisely makes note of the Roots Ireland [IFHF] and the Irish Times Ancestors websites, as well as irishgenealogy.ie, as aids for collaborative consultation when possible.

Look for this in the lower left hand corner of any given parish register page.
The lack of images of original records accompanying the transcriptions has always been my biggest gripe with the Roots Ireland site. The fact is I know my own skill set when it comes to research and transcription, and know my strengths as well as weaknesses when it comes to interpreting data. However, I've never had a clear idea about the skills of those who provide the transcriptions to the IFHF, so have long wanted to see the images next to the transcriptions, just as they are for the most part on irishgenealogy.ie.

In the course of comparing parish register entries to IFHF transcriptions, since the inception of the IFHF site, I have come across numerous transcription errors. Recently, I found one in which the transcription notes the date of baptism as 30 May 1851 and the date of birth as 2 July 1859 for one Bridget Geraghty. As powerful as the Catholic Church was in days of yore, I am quite certain even they were not capable of baptising Baby Geraghty 8 years before she was born.

Given the fact that transcribers are still of the human variety, these kinds of errors are to be expected. However, being able to compare the parish register entries with the IFHF transcription offers the reassurance of getting a more accurate picture. The parish register entry for Bridget Geraghty bears this out. It reveals 2 July 1859 as Bridget's date of baptism, and in fact, offers no date of birth at all. The other details match those of the transcription.

While continuing to search the registers on the trail of other delights, where possible I will consult the entries in concert with the IFHF transcriptions, all the while being well and truly grateful to the National Library of Ireland for delivering on their promise.

Have you used the Roots Ireland site, or another site, in tandem with the NLI parish registers site?

What has been your experience so far on the NLI site?

Some transcriptions conjure up odd images.

©irisheyesjgg2015.

10 comments:

  1. Jenn, thanks for this post. We've been away so I've not had much of a chance to look yet, but enjoyed browsing a bit. Appreciate the pointers you gave me earlier on, and will use your suggestions. Fingers crossed. :)

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    1. Charlotte, thanks very much for your comments. You're welcome for the 'pointers'. It is fun to browse too, isn't it? I hope you have great good luck finding the entries for which you are searching. Cheers!

      Jennifer

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  2. Baptized 8 years before she was born!!?? You have a forgiving attitude. Transcriptions like that make me angry especially since we have to pay to view them. I am frustrated…what else is new…the filter function doesn’t seem to work properly. I filtered for 1773 marriage and it gave me 1765 baptisms. Catherine.

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    1. Catherine, thanks very much for your comments. I'm sorry you're experiencing some frustration. The site is a bit glitchy at times, but don't give up on it. I had a similar problem with the filtering function, but it appears to have been ironed out. Wishing you great good luck with your search. If I can be of any help, please feel free to email me. Cheers!

      Jennifer.

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    1. Colleen, thanks very much for your comment. I hope you've made lots of great finds in the registers.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. Good tips Jennifer. I wonder how many people have ignored/not noticed those little footnotes ;) While I've used the Roots Ireland site since its inception I hadn't thought to use it to fast-track my search. I just went into each register as Ai would if it was a microfilm...start at the beginning and work forward. Mind you, despite all the green in the RootsIreland site, there are many parishes not included in the indexes as yet. Like you I prefer to trust my own interpretation rather than someone else's index, even though the index is a gateway.

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    1. Pauleen, thanks very much for your comments. I'm with you Pauleen, in person I prefer to browse any given microfilm from beginning to end, but the filtering function caught my fancy. I am so impressed by the site and the ease of use (except for a couple of glitches) in searching. It's funny, but I think part of me will miss hunkering down in the National Library for hours on end, browsing through the films and finding odd little bits in addition to family baptisms and marriages. You bring up an interesting fact about RootsIreland not having all parishes. A couple of months ago I was on a FB Irish genealogy page and there was an 'expert' on there telling people if they couldn't find it on RI then it doesn't exist. 'Advice' like that always irritates me, so I related the facts of the matter about missing parishes, as well as the fact that in some areas of Ireland some believe such registers shouldn't be shown to anyone but family members. I am quite sure ears were burning in Tuam.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  5. Meant to say that I have some baptisms in Oz that pre-date (not by 8 years!) the birth registration. In those cases I think the parish is likely correct as they also give DOB, mainly because the civil registration incurred a penalty if it was late. Also my German 2xgreat grandfather would have had to be there for the civil reg as his wife was illiterate.

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    1. Pauleen, thanks for your additional comments. In the case of this Bridget Geraghty, I am unsure as to where they came up with a birth date, since it precedes civil registration and there isn't a birth date in the parish register itself. Some creative transcribing I think. On my family tree the only other 'years out' data I have ever come across is for a birth in 1913 that was not registered until 1916, and was only registered because the mother, Mary Sheehy Kettle, needed proof of birth for her daughter Elizabeth Dorothy in order to apply to the British Forces for a death benefit after the loss of her husband Tom on the Somme. The couple believed civil registration an unnecessary governmental intrusion, given that there was a perfectly good record of Elizabeth Dorothy's baptism held by the Catholic Church.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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Cheers, Jennifer

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