Saturday, March 5, 2011

"New" Passport Applications for George Drollette

Ancestry.com's "Recent Genealogy Database" page http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/recent.aspx, indicates that the US Passport Applications 1795-1925 was updated on 26 January 2011.

On one hand this is good. On another, it is somewhat frustrating.

Regular Casefile Clues readers may remember that in issue 18 from Volume 2, we discussed several passport applications for George Drollette. There are apparently two new ones for him in the database at Ancestry.com as they were not on the chart I made to organize the several passport applications I found for George. The "new" applications on Ancestry.com apparently are not digital versions that have been created from the microfilm. They appear to be digital photographs of the applications. What is frustrating is that I thought I had already searched the passport database for George and several other people and now I need to go back and conduct additional searches.

Passport applications for Drollette spell his last name as either Drollette or Drolette. I initially thought maybe the spellings had been "cleaned up" as sometimes happens, but that's not the case. The chart here is one that I used in issue 18 of Casefile Clues to help me track the passport applications for George. The picture of it here is a down and dirty copy and paste job from the newsletter.
I am glad I made the chart as it made it easier for me to determine which applications were "new" to me and which ones I had already located. I know the passports dated 21 February 1918 and 2 June 1920 were not in the database at Ancestry.com when I did my original searches for the article. (The reason I know is that I remember spending a good hour reviewing the applications, searching the database for all name variations, making the chart to organize what I had, and creating the citations). Creating the citations forced me to really look at each application that I had and now I'm glad I did.

Situations like this are why it is imperative that your source citation indicate the date you accessed an online image and where it was accessed. Two citations are shown in the image and indicate that I accessed Ancestry's database of passport applications in December of 2010, before this update. (Note: we don't normally include citations in blog posts, but each issue of Casefile Clues does include complete citations).

Is it frustrating that the database changed and I have to access it again? Yes. However, it's what I'm going to have to do whether I like it or not.  The better images must have been included in the "update" as the applications I did not get in December were not digital photographs. What I am wondering is where the "new" applications came from.

This image of George Drollette comes from his 1918 application. It is much better than the pictures on the digital versions of the applications that were made from the microfilm.


All of which goes back to what type of source you accessed, how you accessed it, how it was created, etc. 

We'll have an updated discussion of the applications on the blog and in an upcoming issue of Casefile Clues--subscribe now and get in on the fun. I'm hoping to find out how the new images are different from the original ones--in other words what records were not originally microfilmed.

  The images are really nice and for that I'm glad. 

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