NY Marriage Index: Ancestry vs FamilySearch

Happy Thanksgiving,

I am creating a citation for a 1966 marriage in Manhattan. I first learned of the marriage at Ancestry and that is what I would like to cite. Ancestry has something they term "New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967". In reading more about it, I am not convinced that the original data is as represented at https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/61632/. Ancestry refers to a New York State Marriage Index, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY. However, New York City records are typically not part of NY State records. I reviewed the same marriage at FamilySearch and see they cite their source as Reclaim the Records, The NYC Marriage Index, and that it came from the New York City Clerk's Office. I still would want to cite Ancestry. Even though their source is unclear, would my citation be:

“New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967,”  database, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?dbid=61632&h=100206810&indiv=try: accessed 23 Nov 2021), Ann E Kent to Allan Witztum, 10 Aug 1966, cert# 42900; citing “New York State Marriage Index,” New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY. See FamilySearch for an alternate source (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QLS5-THWK : accessed 23 Nov 2021).

I would appreciate your feedback.

Submitted byEEon Tue, 11/23/2021 - 10:01

c08g30, considering the basic rule Cite what you use, you have well handled the uncertainties you're wrestling with. By saying "See FamilySearch for an alternate source," you've clearly distinguished between the two different options available. That said, we might debate three points.


In the citations to both databases, EE would state that this is a database entry, as in

“New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967,”  database, Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?dbid=61632&h=100206810&indiv=try : accessed 23 November 2021), entry for Ann E. Kent ....

In both cases, the inclusion of the words entry for before the names in the "item of interest" field of your citation makes it clear to your reader that you are citing what someone has keyboarded into a database; it's not your own reading of the original. 


If EE were to include a citation to FamilySearch, it would be a full citation. When we rely solely on the URL, a typo would make the citation useless.


In fact, your leading words in the second citation might beneficially be

For an alternate reading and extraction of the unimaged original, see "New York, New York City Marriage Licenses Index, 1950-1995," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QLS5-THWK : 19 June 2017), "Allan Witztum" data sheet; extracted from Reclaim the Records, The NYC Marriage Index (http://www.nycmarriageindex.com : 2016), citing New York City Clerk's Office.

Your Ancestry citation identifies the parties being married. When you add a citation to FamilySearch's version, the form of the presentation makes it unnecessary to duplicate that. At FS, you are not picking out a specific marriage from a list of similar names. The URL takes you straight to a page that FamilySearch created specifically for that marriage.