Posted by Paul Rawlins on March 28, 2011 in Collections

Last month, I wrote about the marriage of Elaine Strang and Frederick Donaldson as recorded in the Consular Reports of Marriage, 1910–1949, database (and elsewhere). With the release of the U.S. Consular Reports of Births, 1910–1949, records this month, it seems only natural to take up the story again.

All the Little Donaldsons

From 1927 passenger records, we know that Elaine and Frederick brought home several little souvenirs from their years in China. Specifically, Susan, Frederick F., James R., and Jocelyn. A simple search of Donaldson and China in the Consular Reports of Births database brought three of Elaine and Frederick’s children to the top of the form.

What’s in a Name

One useful nugget that comes up on the birth records does not show up on either the passenger list or later in the 1930 census. The consular birth records provide middle names: Frederick’s F stands for Frow.

And James R. is James Rider.

We even get the names their father’s middle initials, F.G., stand for: Frow Goodhue. In fact, that threw me for a second on the results page where the mother is listed as Elaine Strang but the father’s name is truncated as Frederick Frow Goodhue.

One Left Over

And what about Jocelyn? Had I been paying a little more attention to my records from last month, I wouldn’t have expected her to show up among the U.S. Consular Reports of Birth records. Both the 1927 passenger list and the 1930 census list her birthplace as Massachusetts.

Which immediately raises another question or three: When did they come back? Why did they come back? Why Massachusetts? And are there any records of the trip? No wonder a family history is never done.


  1. MikeF

    Hot dang! More 1900s records for folks stuck on their parents and grandparents. Way to go Acom!!!

    Who needs those 1800s agricultural census schedules, War of 1812 and Mexican War records? Or even those other 1900s records, you know, the state level vital records?

    1900s records, unsourced junk trees and fluff databases. Way to spend lots less on digitizing original records and increase shareholder value Tim!

  2. Barbara

    What kinds of records are you interested in? Just because they aren’t the ones most recently posted doesn’t mean lots of other people aren’t going to find them useful.(With the exception of the trees…)
    After having made contact with a distant cousin I was suprised that he didn’t know what country his great grandfather came from. So much information has been lost so even relatively recent information is important for people just starting out.

  3. What?

    If you can’t think of why Jocelyn was listed as born in Lynn, MA, you need to research the occupation of the father. He was a minister. They are always being “called” to new places (like the missionaries). In the 1930 census the family is in Worcester, MA.

    Maybe you should try Ancestry’s learning center. Duh!

  4. Wicked Witch

    (Before anyone suggests the possibility, Yes this is a copy and paste job. The only difference is the totaliser at the bottom which will go up one number each time I have to post this.)

    OK, Ancestry. Here goes to give you ANOTHER chance to answer the question rather than fobbing-off or just ignoring us it hoping we will go away.

    Rather than trying to explain anything, let’s play Question and Answer time. It will be a bit like an FAQ page – in fact, rather a lot like an FAQ as this is just the latest occasion this question has been asked so it fulfils the F for Frequently.

    Not completely like an FAQ page of course, as on those you do at least stand a chance of receiving a proper answer.

    Does anyone from Ancestry actually read these blogs after they have set them up?
    Why doesn’t Exact Search work any more?
    Whose decision was it to remove the facility?
    (Or is it the case that the function is broken and nobody knows how to set it up again?)
    Why was the decision made to remove the facility?
    Why are we, who subscribe to Ancestry every year (in my case 10 years at least), being ignored in our questions regarding Exact Search?
    Do you actually care? (I think that the answer to this one is becoming more and more self evident.)

    Number of times the question about Exact Search has been put to Ancestry by me, AND IGNORED


  5. MikeF


    Acom is here to spin PR to the newbs. They are not here to engage their most knowledgeable and demanding customers in a conversation about their criticisms and wants.

    As for (a true) exact search, they are scared the newbs would be too exact and not return any results and then conclude that Acom is not worth it.

    Also by not responding to most criticisms or pointed questions, they avoid either lying or promising things as they have in the past, and which words can be quoted back to them later. So they say nothing.

    Plus don’t forget that the cubicle clones tasked to make these blog entries are not particularly knowledgeable about genealogy or the technical workings of the site software. They merely prove that unknowledgeable mediocre internet project managers are fungible.

    As long as marketing can outpace the churn rate and they maintain their virtual monopoly, they will keep on this course.

  6. Paul Rawlins


    The Search folks would like to handle this through the Ancestry Improvements message board. You’ll find that here:

    Just start a new thread with “Exact Search” in the thread title, and then they’ll want some specifics. Good luck.

    (your friendly fungible cubicle clone)


    I don’t, sorry. I stumbled upon these Donaldsons by chance as I was getting acquainted with these records.

    You’re quite right, a change in ministerial assignment would be an obvious first place to look. In fact, according to a letter accompanying Frederick’s 1921 passport application, they were on furlough. I just need to dig a little deeper to learn why in Mass. Though it’s probably just a function of the missionary life—he left for his post in China from Florida, if I remember right. Still, a trip to the Learning Center wouldn’t hurt me any…

  7. Sherry

    Found a record of Dad’s birth in Panama Canal Zone but did not find John McCain. I thought he was also born there.

  8. Sherry

    “They” may “prefer” that search issues be posted to the ACOM improvements board; all due respect, I “prefer” to have exact search. Since ACOM seems to be ignoring the issue of “exact”, all is fair in love and war 🙂

    Why bring up search issues through the ACOM improvements board. Why not out in the open on this blog.

    I have noticed a change in venue on this blog (took a vacation) and it is very disappointing. At one time there were relative subjects and not all the fluff about who do you think you are, etc. (not that I knock the show, but I am looking for my family, not someone else’s).

    I very much would like “exact” back. Please bring back “exact” to mean what it says and not what you are trying to sell. Exact is Exact………PERIOD.

    While I understand that ACOM is in the business to make monies, please understand that I pay ACOM for the convenience of not having to wade through a bunch of irrelevant records.

    Kind regards

  9. Sherry,

    I can give you one very good reason for using the Ancestry Improvement Message Board for a discussion on Exact Search instead of here on the Ancestry Blog…

    Any particular Blog article is only open for posting for fourteen days- after that it is closed to comments, whereas the message board never closes.

  10. Wicked Witch

    Paul #8

    Thank you for your post. It was very eloquent.

    However, I think that the issue of Exact Search has been going on for far too long and needs to be out in the open and not hidden away.

    I suggest that open a Blog on the front page for Exact Search problems.

    Transparency and accountability. Can’t beat it.

    Come on – put your blog where your money is!

  11. Paul Rawlins

    Sherry and WW,

    Actually, the main reason for handling the question on the board instead of here is just because this particular post is about content rather than search. You could certainly suggest in the conversation on the board that the search folks blog about the answers you come up with to give them a wider audience.


  12. Wicked Witch


    I don’t see what the problem is in addressing this issue in an open and easily accessible forum like a blog on the front page, rather than hiding it away on a board.

    It would show a willingness to interact with your audience – shock horror. It might even help you to sort this all out quickly and easily. Isn’t that what the ideal solution is?

    This is just like taking a plaster off a particularly hairy bit of your body. You couldignore it, but you know it has to come off sooner or later. Pull at it a bit here and there but one hair at a time hurts like mad. Go on, give it a good yank – there is that huge amount of shock, pain, and soreness, that in a few minutes is nothing but a memory. Oh the relief!

    No more posts from me……

  13. WW

    In case you haven’t guessed yet- neither Paul, nor anyone else except members of the search team are going to answer questions about search- the main reason being that they aren’t qualified to give in-depth answers – and the members of the search team aren’t about to hi-jack someone else’s Blog article to answer search questions in a non search related Blog article.

    You want answers- then go to where you can get them, and honey, that is *NOT* in non search related Blog articles.

  14. Anna

    Please explain to me how they cannot have live customer support of any type! I’m locked out of the system — they say I’m logged on elsewhere – which I’m not. And I can’t reset it online or reach anyone to take care of this. Very very very poor service!

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