For my Tuesday Tips today, I'll cover another indexing scheme for organizing the names one might find in a county record book. These books cover wills, deeds and more. As FamilySearch.org puts up more and more image-only historical records, it's important to understand how the indexes work. The records on FamilySearch aren't necessarily searchable via search boxes, but if one knows how the indexes work, she can find records almost as quickly. as you could with search boxes.
I previously posted Indexing tips on 29 March 2016 at http://www.mkrgenealogy.com/searching-for-stories-blog/understanding-indexes-west-virginia-will-index and on 1 March 2016 at http://www.mkrgenealogy.com/searching-for-stories-blog/understanding-indexes-in-county-records-graves-tabular-initial-index
Today’s tip concerns the Burr’s Record Index. In this index, entries are divided into subgroups, based on the first letter of the surname. Typically these subgroups are the first 3 letters of the surname, but may be for fewer letters. If you are using an actual physical book with this index, you will see first letter tabs that stick out, and then cut-outs on the sides of the page for the letter groupings.
In the illustration below for the Talbot County, Maryland Probate Administrations, you can see that surnames beginning with A are grouped into subgroups AA to AF, AG-AH-AI, AK-AL, AM and ANA-AND, ANE-ANZ, AP and AR, etc.
When using these indexes with physical volumes, it is easy to pinch the tab and flip the page. When using digitized images, it is easiest to click on the icon to display an array of pages, and try to find the desired letter tab. In the array below, you can see page 95 is highlighted and since the tabs are close to half-way down the page, but not exactly half, you can infer that it’s somewhere around the letter J. Just estimate where the tab will be for the first letter of the surname you’re searching for.
Once I have found the name in the index, I will see the details of where the actual record can be found. On the index below for the span of years 1777-1860, I can see that the first accounting for his estate will be found in Liber (Book) #2, page 137. .
I can go back and look at the list of films for Talbot County and select Accounts 1789-1790 Volume 2, find page 137, and see the accounting for the estate of Lambert Booker
Knowing how to use indexes such as the Burr’s index will make it easy for a researcher to find the digitized records, even when there is no searchable index for them on the FamilySearch search page.
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.