Identification of dates in church record examples of EE sec.7.24 & 7.25

I read over sections 7.24 & 7.25 in the EE book and have a question about why the event dates and document dates vary in their presentation as they do. As both refer to artifacts, I would have expected the dates to be presented in a similar way. I just need a bit of help to understand if there is a specific reason for this.

A) In the 7.24 example, the certificate date is shown as, "Rogers-Morgan marriage certificate (1848 marriage); issued  1971...", in both the source list and reference note.

Why would this, not be, "Rogers-Morgan marriage certificate (1971), married 1848;..."? I often have more than one artifact certificate for the same event, but each issued in a different year. It seems that keeping the issue date as part of the artifact's generic ID would be needed to differentiate amongst them.

B) In the 7.25 example, the marriage entry is shown as, "Charleville-Clarisen marriage entry, 1798. Certified translation issued 1937...", in the source list and as, "Charleville-Clarisen marriage entry (1798); certified translation  issued 1937...".

In this case, I see that the style of showing the date has changed between the source list and reference note. Could you clarify why that was done? Could one not consistently use "Charleville-Clarisen marriage entry (1798)"?

Submitted byEEon Sat, 11/04/2023 - 10:02

History-Hunter, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that we should use

  • Charleville-Clarisen marriage entry (1798) ...
  • Rogers-Morgan marriage certificate (1971) ...

The two are not the same.  The date of the marriage (or baptism or other event) is the date that is placed in parentheses.   As a corollary, if you are citing a birth certificate that you received in 2004 for a person born in 1931, do you cite it as …

  • John Whozit Brown birth certificate (2004) ...


In the case of the two “marriage records” you point to, the full examples (with coloration to distinguish the layers) are these:

     1. Rogers-Morgan marriage certificate (1848 marriage); issued 1971, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Cloutierville, Louisiana; privately held by …

     2. Charleville-Clarisen marriage entry (1798); certified translation issued 1937 by John Ray, Archivist, St. Louis Cathedral (New Orleans, Louisiana), citing vol. 2, p. 120, entry 447; privately held by …

The two are in parallel form. Each is a three-layer citation in which

  • Layer 1 identifies the parties and the year of the marriage.
  • Layer 2 gives the details of who created the derivative and when.
  • Layer 3 states where the derivative is being held.

Internal differences exist because

  • The Rogers-Morgan marriage certificate is not at all the equivalent of the original marriage entry. It’s a certificate that picks out selected details and shuffles the arrangement of the data.  (For the serious consequences resulting from this difference, you might see the "Stanville" case study here:
  • The Charleville-Clarisen document is a replication of the original act, in translated form, with all details exactly as they appear in the original act
  • The Charleville-Clarisen document also cites the exact volume/page/entry of the original, which the Rogers-Morgan certificate does not.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Sat, 11/04/2023 - 12:52

Thank you. I think that you indirectly addressed what was actually confusing me. The use of parentheses would seem to be more a matter of preference/style. The use of different approaches in the source list and reference note of the second example just added to my confusion. That is; it appears one could also use something like;

     1. Rogers-Morgan marriage certificate, 1848 marriage; issued 1971, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Cloutierville, Louisiana; privately held by …

The explanation about the type of information to be contained in each clause was also valuable. In particular; the wording you used in defining the layer content triggered one particular thought...

When one sees an online image, it is typical that the image content is used only in "Layer 1" and the information presented outside of the actual image is usually the basis for subsequent layers. For an artifact, however, there can clearly be derivative-related information that actually forms part of the artifact (or its image), as well as any documentation accompanying it. If the noted replication of a document were to be found as an online image, then it appears that one might also have to be careful to separate the two elements in the image and allocate them as you noted. I suspect that might mean requiring a clause for the "Layer 2" content from within the image and another clause for that found outside the image.

[As a bit of an aside; I have a "certified" transcription of a baptismal record for which I have viewed the original register in person. The transcription, although certified, was markedly incorrect. So; I suppose that there really is no substitute for trying to find the closest-to-original record of an event. :>)]

H-H, all these variations and possibilities boil down to one thing: Careful researchers thoroughly analyze what they use and identify it as clearly as possible. 

And, yes, absolutely, "there really is no substitute for trying to find the closest-to-original record of an event"!