International Institute of Genealogical Studies


International Institute of Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Transcription Tuesday – Colonial Records

One of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies courses that requires a good foundation of Transcription Skills, is our Research: US Colonial New England Ancestors course. The next course is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 3rd, 2022. To check for future start dates, look under the Register tab on the course web page, or check the Course Calendar here

Research: U.S. Colonial New England Ancestors
Course Description: This seven-module course will give the student a basic foundation to research using colonial records in New England. It focuses primarily on the most common records used for research. The student will learn about strategies for finding colonial New England records while incorporating colonial town records, colonial census records, colonial land records and maps, the colonial wars, religious records, and court documents. 

The student who undertakes this course should have familiarity with United States vital, religious, census, land and military records, as well as have a good knowledge of genealogical methodologies. 

Course Content
This course introduces you to Colonial New England research through websites and state resources. It will provide strategies for finding Colonial New England records during the time period leading up to the American Revolution. As you discover these valuable and genealogically-rich documents, you will be faced with the major challenge of deciphering Colonial Handwriting. It is recommended to transcribe these documents to glean all the information they contain and every clue they provide. Transcriptions of the original documents will make future references a lot easier. Making Abstracts will be useful for a summary of what each document contains.

To facilitate developing your Transcription Skills, we have two books to recommend:
Reading Early American Handwriting by Kip Sperry
Understanding Colonial Handwriting by Harriet Stryker-Rodda
Both of these books are available to order through our online Genealogy Store on our website.

Once you are ready to explore Colonial records, you should familiarize yourself with the area of your research. Build a timeline and record a brief history of the early settlement of the town. By building a location guide for each town, you will be able to gather information about which resources are available, including early genealogies that were created. 

Colonial Town Records are fascinating and include: Different Types of Colonial Town Records, Freemen and Inhabitancy, Town Officers, Town Business, Tax Records, Licenses, Ear Marks, Manumissions, School Records, and Poor Records; as well as Vital Records and Cemetery Records. There were Colonial Censuses taken. Some surviving records include:  Published Census, Reconstructed Census Lists, and Census Substitutes of the 17th and 18th centuries. 

This course will discuss Strategies for research, tracking Immigration, and look at Court Records. Land Records and Maps will be examined, through the Common Terminology used in this time period and will look at some Land Grants. Understanding your research location through Maps and Gazetteers will help you to determine where to look for records. It will conclude with Military Records, Religious Records, and Colonial Court Records. 

ALL of these records will require the ability to read and decipher Colonial Handwriting. By transcribing each document, you will become more familiar with how the letters are formed and the common language used in each type of record. 

Transcription Skills are developed with PRACTICE. The more original documents you can transcribe, the easier it will become. There are no shortcuts. It is a skill that is developed. Use the reference tools available to you. Study the scripts common to the time period and location of your research. Purpose to become an excellent Transcriber.
As researchers, we have found that there are many skills we need to employ in order to achieve success in our future research projects. Transcription Tuesday will share guidelines and practical suggestions to help our readers to develop the skills for making effective transcriptions, abstracts, and extractions.

Transcription Tuesday previous blog post
Transcription Tuesday Index
These three core courses demonstrate Transcription principles. They are offered monthly, beginning on the first Monday of every month: Register today!
Methodology-Part 2: Organizing and Skill-Building 
Skills: Transcribing, Abstracting & Extracting 
Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents 
Visit our website for a complete list of online courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Check our Course Calendar here
Follow us on Social Media: BlogFacebookTwitter, Pinterest
*Note: Please be aware our social media accounts are monitored regularly, but NOT 24/7. If you have any questions, please contact the office directly.

Contact information:
1 (800) 580-0165


Our Recent American Records Graduates

Continuing to post Congratulations to Our Recent Graduates 
**Please see previous blog post with a Message from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies to all recent graduates.

What an impressive achievement! It took a lot of hard work, patience, and determination to reach your goal. It is time to celebrate the success of all our recent graduates. We are so very proud of all of you. 

Introducing the Graduates of the American Records Certificate between June 2019 and October 2021.

Bette Bohman, PLCGS  
Lynda Carter, PLCGS   
Linda Christensen, PLCGS
Amy Clounch, PLCGS   
Karin Coppernoll, PLCGS  
Sherrie Craun, PLCGS  
Stephanie Cutter, PLCGS 
Julie Eaklor, PLCGS  
Gaynol Fales, PLCGS  
Pamela Groth, PLCGS 
Laura Hall, PLCGS  
Kim Hanks, PLCGS  
Margaret Hodges, PLCGS  
Lynne Jakobowski, PLCGS  
Ruth Jolly, PLCGS  
Debra Kabinier, PLCGS  
Susan Kaplan, PLCGS 
Misti Layne, PLCGS   
Brian Maclachlan, PLCGS   
Sharon Marsh, PLCGS  
Lynne Moore McCreery, PLCGS   
Ginger Muenster, PLCGS  
Katie Myers, PLCGS  
Janet Neel, PLCGS   
Rebecca Novy, PLCGS   
Scott Roberts, PLCGS   
Jennifer Smith, PLCGS   
Christina Tracy, PLCGS 
Stephen Van Bibber, PLCGS  
Justina Vickerman, PLCGS   
Heather Weaver, PLCGS 

Warmest congratulations to all our graduates… 

Louise St Denis and our team at The National Institute for Genealogical Studies 
Graduates have completed all requirements for our 40-course American Records Certificate, which includes the following compulsory American Records courses: 

Basic Level 
US: Census Records
US: Land Records
US: Religious Records-Part 1
US: Vital Records, Understanding and Using the Records

Intermediate Level 
US: Cemetery and Mortuary Records
US: Immigration & Naturalization Records
US: Migration Patterns
US: Probate Records
US: Religious Records-Part 2

Advanced Level 
US: Court Records
US: Institutional Records
US: Military Records
US: Newspaper Records
US: Occupational Records
To recognize all of our graduates throughout the years, please go to our website at, click on the menu item INSTITUTE, and then GRADUATES. Be patient, the list is long and therefore takes time to display.

For a full list of Certificates from The National Institute for Genealogical Studies, please visit our website.
Visit our website for a complete list of online courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Check our Course Calendar here
Follow us on Social Media: BlogFacebookTwitter, Pinterest
*Note: Please be aware our social media accounts are monitored regularly, but NOT 24/7. If you have any questions, please contact the office directly.

Contact information:
1 (800) 580-0165



Marriage Records 

The marriage certificate is the only civil record that actually records a union between two individuals, whereas other marriage records indicate that a marriage was “projected or planned.” So be cautious regarding which marriage document is being reviewed and understand the difference.


Information you will always expect to find on a marriage certificate: 

  • the name of the bride and groom 
  • the date of the marriage  
  • location of the marriage (at least the county in which the marriage was filed) 
  • the individual who married the couple 
  • name of the clerk who recorded the marriage with the county 

The type of information recorded on a marriage document will change over time and will vary from county to county and state to state.  

The US Federal Census can also help with finding a marriage record. What kind of marriage information can the census provide? While the 1850 to 1870 census doesn’t record marital status, it does note if the person was married within the year. The 1900 through 1940 census will provide the marital status “married, single, widow, or divorced,” the “age at first marriage” (1930), or the “number of years of present marriage” (1900, 1910).


Record Keeping 

In our modern society (the 20th and 21st century), marriage records are typically kept at both the county in which the ceremony took place and the state bureau of records. There is a central gathering point in each state, typically known as the Bureau of Vital Records or Statistics (or something similar).  

For most states, marriage records began being kept at the time a county was formed at the county level. These early records are not kept by the state, unless they have been transferred to the state archives.  

With our United States: Vital Records  course you will learn more about obtaining marriage records and the information they hold in your genealogy research.  

Terms to be Aware of

Marriage Documents 

Most of the documents below are not proof that a marriage took place, only that a marriage was being planned. Just like today, there were many broken engagements.


  • Marriage license: When the county receives a completed marriage license application form from an engaged couple along with the payment, then they will issue the couple a marriage license.  
  • Marriage return: When a marriage is performed by someone, such as a minister or justice of the peace, the marriage license is returned to the court. The marriage license is now called a “marriage return” and is recorded in the marriage register by the town or county clerk.  
  • Marriage banns: In a parish church an announcement is made to the general membership that two people intend to marry. This was usually done over three successive Sundays. This gave time for the congregation to let the clergy know if either person was not able to marry for any reason.  
  • Marriage intention: In New England, the Intention was treated much like the Banns. Only the Intention is published in the town meeting books prior to the marriage.  
  • Marriage bond: A prospective groom posts a bond in the county of the bride’s residence. The bond is bought as a surety that there is no reason the groom cannot marry.  

With our United States: Vital Records course you will learn more about marriage records and how they will help you in your genealogy research.  

Death Indexes Online

US Death Indexes 

There are many different death indexes online. Please note that most indexes do not include every year. Remember that a name in an index is not proof that this is the researcher’s person! Often the person you are seeking is not the first to have this name and won’t be the last! Never assume the indexed name is your person and stop your research at that point.  


Always be creative in finding various ways to search for what you might be seeking. Go to the FamilySearch website and choose Catalog from the Search drop-down menu. Another way to search is to conduct a Place search and then enter the name of the county and state.  

One other place to check for online death indexes is Google. Conduct a Google search on the phrase, free “death index.”  

Research Plan 

Go beyond the index. Creating a research plan for more documents is necessary. The first item on the research plan should be finding an obituary. Next, would be checking with the cemetery where the individual was interred. Personalize a research plan to your needs. If you do not have the exact date of death, then the research continues. With our United States: Vital Records course you will learn more about researching and locating a death index.