Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fix Census Indexes & Help Future Researchers

This is probably old news, but the ability to add corrections to Ancestry's census indexes is a great tool that makes the best census collection even better. As I'm sure everyone has found, some ancestral families were recorded or indexed under incorrect or just bizarre spellings of their names. With Ancestry essentially having the people who would (or should!) know better improve the collection, future researchers won't have to pull their hair out trying to find persons of interest.

The link for submitting "Comments and Corrections" is on the right side of the page under "Page Tools." Makes sense. From there you can "Add an Alternate Name" and a brief note about why you are making the correction. I've been surprised at how quickly staff (or an automated system?) is approving my submissions; most are taking just a few days to show up on the website.

Note: If ten people in a household are all indexed under an incorrect surname because the head of household's name was recorded or indexed incorrectly, you will have to submit a correction for each individual. Otherwise, Ancestry will not apply a correction for one person to the entire household.

You probably need to have an Ancestry account and be logged in for these links to work, but here are some examples of my handiwork:

  • Hartwig Heinrich VOSSIEK: The family's surname was recorded as FASSOCK, which makes sense if you know a little about German and what to expect from enumerators. But to a newbie, it might take a while to find this family. I know from experience. (Worse yet, daughter Johanna Friederike Louisa VOSSIEK was counted as a boy named Frederick.)
  • Hermann Conrad Heinrich POHL: Recorded as "Henry BOUL," this wasn't easy to find. After learning about how German sounded, I searched for a family that may have been recorded as BOHL. Still nothing. I don't even remember how I found this record, though it was probably by filtering results based on given name, age and nativity. If the occupation was searchable, this would have been fairly easy. Henry came from a long line of tanners.)
  • Rocceanna (KENSLER) HEATON-SPENCE: The family's name was misread by an indexer and was showing up as "SPIECE." Additionally, the spelling "Rocceanna" was used in several records, but so was "Roxanna" or "Roxianna." I added a note about that, too.

In all, I probably submitted several dozen corrections or name variations to make individuals more easily found. None of these are recent finds. After noticing the correction tool, I took a quick glance at some of the census records I've transcribed (I transcribe all of them I find) and submitted my notes. It's a really easy process and won't take more than a minute or two per census record, depending on the size of the household. To steal a phrase, just do it.

PS - This is not limited to Ancestry's census collection. Corrections can be submitted for records in other databases.


Lee said...

I don't do that as often as I should. Thank you for the prod, although a cattle prod would probably be more effective with me. ;-)

Apple said...

I'm glad to here that they are going through faster now. They were taking weeks! I haven't submitted any for records other than census and I should.

David said...

Lee, it's good to see you blogging again. I'm lurking in the slow lane, but I noticed.

Apple, I didn't know there had been a prolonged delay, but figured the process would take at least a week. (Did everyone else blog about this? I don't recall.) As for how widespread the feature is, I don't know. It's there for WWI draft cards, but not some marriage databases. The one section that could really benefit from it is Immigration. Those ship lists can be pretty bad in terms of accurate details.