A bit of news from FamilySearch regarding their databases

+12 votes
624 views

I recently discovered an error in some FamilySearch records (specifically, I compared FamilySearch's no-image-available transcriptions of some early parish records from Norfolk, England, with the images of those same records available from FindMyPast, and determined that FamilySearch systematically mislabeled the records for Long Stratton, Norfolk, as being from Bale, Norfolk -- a place nowhere near Long Stratton).

I submitted "feedback" to FamilySearch to report this error. I think the response I received might be of interest to other WikiTreers:

We understand that your have found an error in our records...

The record in question shows a system origin of “England-EASy.”   This is one of the legacy collections and was created by volunteer indexers prior to our current arbitration procedures.  As a consequence, the indexed records contain numerous errors.  In the future the original records will be available online and will possibly be indexed again, therefore we are not making corrections at this time.

As you possess correct information on this family, we urge you to use your correct name spelling and dates as you complete your records in Family Tree, and make a notation of the discrepancy in the “notes” section.

We are currently working on a new program.   The new program will allow you to go in and make corrections to the errors that you find. 


Thank you for your patience as you wait for this new program.  It is going to be excellent, but takes time to engineer and we do have other projects ahead of it.  In fairness to you, we would advise this may not be a quick fix.
Thank you for advising us of the problem.  We do like our records to be as accurate as possible and we appreciate you taking the time to notify us.

Regards,
FamilySearch,
​Historical Records

in The Tree House by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
Trust them to miss the point.  It's unlikely the new program will allow you to correct the parish.

Presumably they've got the film mislabelled, so making the scans available online won't help at all, as the parish name won't usually appear in the images and you still have to take it on trust.

Unless it's FMP that has the film mislabelled.

Ancestry has some mislabelled parishes in its West Yorkshire collection.  They were told years ago, they've done nothing.  It's an insidious problem. You find your entry in a register, but you then somehow have to verify which register it is.
Yes, FamilySearch seems to have the entire film mislabeled. FindMyPast has it labeled correctly -- I've paged through the film to the beginning and confirmed the parish name and location.

At least FamilySearch responded quickly to my message (not all database operators do that) -- and they are admitting that there are many errors in the England-EASy collection. That admission will be helpful as I try to explain the situation to WikiTree contributors who are inclined to rely on FamilySearch transcripts as the Gold Standard.
Another issue with their English records is that they are taken from the Bishop's Transcripts - so transcript of transcript. I've found several cases where there were errors in the Bishop's copy when compared to the parish original.
Ellen I have found errors on even official documents from local sources. My great grandmothers LNAB was misspelled on her son's marriage license. It could be the volunteers who transcribed the records in the case you mention, but in the case of my great grandmother it was a clerk at the records office who spelled the name wrong. I do not think there is a place where you could say is 100% error free. familysearch,org has the biggest database and is free to everyone and by their statements they are going to try and correct some of the errors. They may not be perfect, but for most of us they are the best place for sources.
Yes, Dale, there are errors everywhere. Nothing I said here was intended to suggest that the problem is unique to FamilySearch.

I've submitted error corrections to a number of different online data providers. The responses range from delightfully prompt and friendly to the diametric opposite of prompt and friendly, but generally they are very specific to the item I reported. The response I got from FamilySearch seemed to me to be worth sharing because it indicated that the organization is aware of issues with this particular database for England, that they are not planning to correct those errors in the near term, that they intend to replace or supplement that database with access to the record images (presumably the same images I that accessed on the paysite FindMyPast), and that they aim to give users the ability to submit corrections to data on their site..
The trouble with open error-correction is that people say "my ancestor's name is spelt wrong" and "correct" it, even though the transcription correctly indicates what's written on the document.

But in this case it's not about the document being wrong, or the document being misread, it's about the document being misidentified.  This is a much more serious problem and they do need to do something about it.  We have to rely on them for the documents being what they say they are.
Another version of this problem arises with English censuses.  Often the enumerators didn't bother to fill in the headers on each page.  The online sites are careless about how they fill in the blanks, and this results in books being attributed to the wrong village.

1 Answer

+4 votes
I do like that they are finally going to let you make corrections. I have numerous transcription errors up and down my lines.
by Jim Tareco G2G6 Mach 2 (29.9k points)

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