Town Clerk Records may or may not be actual records of historical Town Clerks

On Ancestry.com sources are odd. Sources titled something like, Massachusetts Town Clerk Vital Records, turn out to be NOT the records of a town clerk in Massachusetts a long time ago, but the work of a person like me, something found then transcribed, conclusions drawn, maybe actual proof, maybe not. Example below. Labeled as Mass. Town and Vital Records, it’s actually the work of Mr. Stoughton from the 1960s. He was surely conscientious and knowledgeable, but still, his work can’t be recorded as the work of Massachusetts Town clerks from the 1620s? Can it?

Source Information

Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

http://ancstry.me/2soIfkj link requires a paid subscription, here’s a screen shot.

Anc example


Other sources that may not be high quality:

American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI)

Ancestry Family Trees

Family Data Collection – Births, Deaths, Individual Records, Marriages

Millennium File

U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s

U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current:

Find a Grave is completely unverified and put together by well meaning volunteers who may or may not see and transcribe the correct names, dates, etc. When saving FindAGrave as an Ancestry source birth and death dates are cited with Find a Grave as the source, but most times the birth and death dates are not verified, and the burial is only verified if there’s a readable headstone, I think.

U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970

American Marriages Before 1699

Web: Netherlands, Genealogie Online Trees Index, 1000-2015

These are a few of the big low quality sources. When I first began using Ancestry I had these sources for every single person, whenever available. Now that I understand they’re kind of bogus and not worth much as far as proof I tend to use them only as a placeholder for a better source or a way to follow a trail.