Monday, October 4, 2021

Easier Way to Find Jennie's Marriage Cert

Yesterday, I showed the steps taken to find my great aunt Jennie's marriage cert from 1916. She and great uncle Alex were married in New York City on Christmas Eve of 1916. 

My gen friend Lara Diamond, who knows a thing or three about Big Apple vital records databases, suggested an easier way to find Jennie's marriage cert--a method that would remove more than 700 clicks from the process! **

Lara's method has specific steps to follow but saves time because it allows me to more quickly get to the NYC cert by narrowing the number of images to browse.

Step 1

Go to the databases, which include vital records indexes for New York City. Select either the bride's or groom's record of marriage certs. As shown in the image above, many of these have been indexed by the wonderful volunteers at Italian Gen for selected years in all five boroughs. 

Step 2 

Enter the name of the bride (as I did in the image directly above) or use the groom's database, and be sure to specify a year or range of years. You can enter as much info as you know, or leave the search broader. I only used "J" for the bride's name, since I wasn't sure whether the cert would show her as "Jenny" or "Jennie."  

The third search result in the listing was my great aunt Jennie, who married Farkas, Alexander. 

The key piece of info here is the CertNbr which means the actual certificate number. Lara's insight was to use the cert number to jump ahead in the unindexed but browsable images on Family Search. Here, I'll be looking for cert #31504.

Step 3

Since I already knew the correct digitized microfilm number on Family Search, I could go to that digitized file and look at the early cert numbers in the batch. 

Then I estimated how many certs to jump ahead in order to find #31504. This saved me hundreds of clicks. I only had to spot-check the number of a cert many dozens of images away to see how close I was getting to the cert number I wanted

Remember, without the cert number, I needed to click through every cert because the digitized certs are not in chronological order--they're in cert order. If I didn't know the cert number, I couldn't skip ahead.

Step 3 alternative

What if I didn't know where on Family Search to look for these browsable images? Lara recommends going to and using his one-step tools to find the correct batch of certs. See image of search on his site, shown below.

Using Steve Morse's tools, I input the groom's and bride's names, plus place of marriage and year. This search jumped me to the Family Search site, at the beginning of the microfilmed batch I was seeking. (Jump doesn't always work, so also consult the FamilySearch wiki here.)

Then I proceeded to quickly look for the correct cert number, by skipping through the lower numbers until I got to the approximate place for the correct number of my great aunt's cert.

Thank you to Lara for this streamlined method of locating NYC marriage certs!


** Lara just added this: "There’s an easier way still. Do the same groom search you did. But click “search IGG.” You get the cert number, but in the far right, there is “click here” which brings you to the right film, close to the cert you want."

PS from me: If all else fails, consider asking for your cert or other info via the Family History Library lookup service. They are nice folks and try hard to fulfill requests!  

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