This week I had a chance to use a brand-new CD-ROM disk with a long title: The Ricker Compilation of Vital Records of Early Connecticut - Based on the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records and Other Statistical Sources, compiled and edited by Jacquelyn Ladd Ricker. The disk was just released within the past week or two by Genealogical Publishing Company. After using this Windows and Macintosh disk for a couple of hours, I am very impressed.
If you have Connecticut ancestry, you will be pleasantly surprised by the resources on this disk. It contains more than 1.5 million records of Connecticut residents prior to 1850. The records include:
From the Barbour Collection:
- 1.2 million records of births, marriages, and deaths from over 135 Connecticut towns
- 300,000 records from cemeteries, probate records, tax records, and family Bibles
That's right, information from the famous Barbour Collection has been transcribed and placed on this disk. The amount of information in this collection varies from town to town, but always includes the name, date, and nature of event (birth, baptism, marriage, or death) plus whatever other details are appropriate to the event: names of parents, mother’s maiden name, ages of parents, birthplace and occupation of parents, and cause and place of death.
But wait, there's more. In addition to the Barbour Collection, this disk also contains:
- Vital statistics from several Connecticut towns not included by Barbour
- Information gleaned from lists of source records, Bibles, and church records held in the Connecticut State Library in Hartford
- Tombstone transcriptions from over 400 cemeteries which were originally published in The Connecticut Nutmegger, a publication of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists formerly edited by Jacquelyn Ricker.
The Barbour Collection is a series of fifty-five volumes that cost $25 to $40 each, when you can find them. Many of the books are now out of print and it is tough to find them in used book stores. It seems that nobody ever sells them! This CD-ROM disk contains essentially the same records, indexed and searchable in a manner that is much faster than using the books. Best of all is the price: only $59.99 for all the information on a single CD-ROM disk.
The Ricker Compilation contains records of most individuals in Connecticut from approximately 1633 through 1850 or so when the state started recording statistics. Most of the records came from town clerks or registrars although there are other records written by justices of the peace, doctors, clergymen, acquaintances and family members. Still more records were extracted from baptism, burial, probate, court and tax records. Finally, this compilation also contains entries from private diaries, family Bibles, church records, personal letters, and more.
Use of this CD is simple. I unwrapped it and inserted the disk into my computer's CD-ROM drive. A few seconds later, the opening menu appeared. I didn't have to click on anything as the CD uses the AUTOSTART feature built into Windows.
I found that the disk had been created with Adobe Acrobat, a good choice in my opinion. It will work equally well on Microsoft Windows and on Apple's OS 8.6, OS 9 and OS X. I also tried it in one of my Linux systems, and it seemed to operate there as well, although the publisher does not guarantee Linux operation.
The CD is organized in a manner similar to printed books: it has a table of contents, an introduction, a list of towns in the state, and a list of abbreviations. That is followed by a description of the Barbour Collection, a discussion of the thousands of cemetery listings, and a section called Other Sources that lists many other sources of Connecticut genealogical information.
The last section is the one that contains the data. It is simply called The Ricker Compilation. It contains all the names, in alphabetical order, of the people listed in the records mentioned earlier. Most of the listings include dates, names of spouses or parents and a reference to each original record where the information was found.
I found that I could “page down” through the records, one page at a time, looking for information. However the disk's built-in search engine is the best method of finding information quickly. You can type in any name or phrase and the search engine will search the entire disk for all occurrences of your search terms.
For instance, I did a search of my own surname. I already knew that many people of that name lived in colonial Connecticut although none of them were my ancestors. I have never spent much time investigating these families in the outer twigs of my family tree. Yet I simply entered my surname and clicked on SEARCH, and about five seconds later I was reading a list of 196 references to people of that name; each reference listed where the information came from. Not bad for a five-second effort!
Searching for a single word, such as a surname, is very fast. My search for EASTMAN required less than five seconds on a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 system. Searching for two names, such as first and last names, required about fifteen seconds. Adding a third word, such as first name, last name and town name, extended the search to 30 seconds or more. That is still much faster than paging through the books to look for the same information.
Unlike many genealogy CD-ROM disks, I found that it is easy to copy information from the Ricker Compilation CD-ROM. You can then past that information can then be pasted into almost any genealogy program or word processor. For instance, here are a few records for people named Eastman that I copied-and-pasted from the CD-ROM disk:
- Alcy Sophia, dau of Rufus, b. 20 Jan 1839 - Ashford VR
- Amherst, son of Benjamin & Mary, b. 14 Aug 1768 - New Milford VR
- Anne, dau of Ebenezer & Mary, b. 9 Jul 1759 - Ashford VR
- Asahel/Asael, son of Peter & Abigail, b. 7 Mar 1763 - Ashford VR
- Barsheba, dau of Jonathan & Elizabeth, b. 29 Sep 1746 - Norwich VR
- Benjamin, son of Ebenezer & Mary, b. 7/10 Nov 1753 - Ashford VR
- Benjamin, mar Mary Hitchcock, 16 Jun 1756, by Solomon Palmer - New Milford VR
- Benjamin, son of Benjamin & Mary, b. 3 Oct 1759 - New Milford VR
- Benjamin, son of Timothy & Esther, b. 6 Oct 1765 - Ashford VR
- Benjamin, mar Marsylva Jones, 8 Nov 1796 - Ashford VR
- Benjamin, of N. Haven, mar Julia Ives, of Hamden, 7 Jun 1832, by Rev. Stephen Hubbell - Hamden VR
NOTE: “VR” is an abbreviation for “vital records.”
Likewise, printing information from this disk was also simple: select FILE, then select PRINT and then select the pages to be printed. One selection is “current page” which probably will be a common chore. Beware of one thing: the default setting is to print all 14,465 pages on this disk. I suspect you will want to change that before clicking on “OK!”
All in all, The Ricker Compilation is an excellent example of the use of technology for researching your ancestry. It contains the equivalent of 14,465 printed pages of very high quality and well-researched genealogy information. If printed on paper, this information would cost more than $1,000 because of the printing expenses of all the volumes plus another couple of hundred dollars just for a bookcase to hold all this. The Ricker Compilation CD-ROM disk gives you exactly the same information on a half-ounce plastic disk plus it provides a better method of finding information quickly. All of this is available for $59.99, much less than the cost of just the required bookcase for printed books.
If you have Connecticut ancestry, you want this disk!
The Ricker Compilation CD-ROM will operate on Windows or Macintosh computers of modest computing power. It sells for $59.99 and is available directly from Genealogical Publishing Company's safe and secure online shopping cart system here.