Familysearch has wrong death location for Amsterdam holocaust victims

+14 votes

Death locations in death certificates of Amsterdam holocaust victims are indexed incorrectly as Amsterdam at Familysearch.

Please use the death location recorded in the death certificate instead. Link given below is an example of the incorrect indexing:

"Netherlands, Noord-Holland, Civil Registration, 1811-1950", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 5 April 2018), Willem Sluijter, 1942

WikiTree profile: Willem Sluijter
in The Tree House by Living Terink G2G6 Pilot (302k points)
edited by Living Terink
Ugh, another fine example of why FamilySearch needs to implement a means to submit corrections to transcriptions. It appears the transcriber recorded the birthplace as the death place.

It's not the birthplace, it is consistently Amsterdam (whatever the birth place), the place of registration. See my answer to Doug.
Ahh, either way, someone was not paying attention.

And btw I also noticed that deaths in the month May (Dutch: mei) seem all(?) to have been indexed as month of death April...
At least on this film, starting at image 1235 right to the end of the film (image 1807) all May's are indexed as April (almost 3,500 certificates):

3 Answers

+18 votes
Best answer
At the bottom of the page on FamilySearch is a link for "Feedback." The form that comes up will let you submit a problem report. Give a clear description of the problem and links to some sample pages that show the problem. I have had errors corrected after submitting. It can take time though.

This is one of the reasons to NEVER trust transcriptions and always go to the original image if possible. Errors happen a lot.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (550k points)
selected by Pip Sheppard
Thanks Doug, but I am afraid this is a consistent error with this category of death certificates:

Residents of Amsterdam arrested in razzia's in 1940-1945, sent to concentration camps, killed there. Notification of their death in a camp received by the Amsterdam civil registration after the war, often as late as 1950 (as in the example). We are talking thousands of these late notifications. Looks like FS did a quick and dirty job of indexing, setting the death event location to the location of registration, Amsterdam.

And yes, of course one should always look at the original document when available. I submitted quite some corrections on their index records to Dutch archives.

To FS I submitted some years ago the problem that they wrongly uppercase Dutch prepositions like "van", "de", etc. making it "Van", "De", etc. Was to be processed by some language committee. No further feedback by them, nor correction...
I sent feedback anyway...
They don't always fix things but the current director seems to want things to work better. While it is hit or miss, I've had more luck with FS than Ancestry getting things corrected. Some things neither one will fix.
OK, this error is painful as the people involved all were holocaust victims. That should be an extra incentive for them to get things fixed.
Well, I used the Feedback link to complain about how FS wants to suggest "Noord-Holland" as the standard name for one province but "South Holland" for another.  They did respond and were sympathetic, but didn't offer too much hope that it would change soon.  This is a much more serious issue, though, someone really dropped the ball..

FS reacted with (my guess) a standard "sorry, can't help you", not tailored to this particular massive wrong indexing:

Thank you for contacting FamilySearch.  We understand you have concerns on some indexing.
Volunteers work to index digitized records so you can search for them on Old records are often difficult to read. Usually, two volunteers and an arbitrator work on the records to try to create as accurate an index as possible. Nevertheless, as with any human effort, errors do occur.
We do not currently have the manpower to correct misindexed historical records.  We are working on a way to make corrections.

I started a list to give to David Rencher if I can corner him in January. I just hit one where they indexed a number of locations for the American Revolution into places that weren't possible. For example, Lexington in a volume on Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors is Lexington, Dawson, Nebraska and Woburn as Woburn, Bond, Illinois. Lots of places incorrect. In  this case it isn't a handwriting issue. The text is typed.

In the case of holocaust victims it isn't a handwriting issue either: the certificates are all preprinted, with the variables typewritten. Only handwriting on certificate is certificate number and signature. Perfect OCR case. Looks like FS is far behind in employing currently available recognition tools. Amsterdam archive is currently transcribing 17th century notarial deeds, employing Transkribus, a Handwritten Text Recognition tools. Other archives also use the tool for transcribing.

I've used Transkribus for some records. Sometimes it does pretty well, but others it fails miserably. It has been getting better recently as more documents go through it.
+10 votes
I was involved in indexing the Amsterdam death certificates that appear on FS. I indexed numerous death records of Holocaust victims. It was always quite obvious that those records were unusual due to a lot of crossing out and an irregular format. I don't see how indexers could correctly index the death date as being several years before the registration date but fail to realise they were Holocaust victims who died in places outside the Netherlands.

Unfortunately FS has a policy that corrections to indexes cannot take place. This is a very frequent topic of complaint on the FS users forum GetSatisfaction.

This however may important enough for FS to make an exception to their rule. They already have a agreement with Jewish leaders that Holocaust victims can not be "proxy baptised"
by Abm van Helsdingen G2G6 Mach 5 (51.8k points)
edited by Abm van Helsdingen

What I observed applies to a special class of death certificates, type written, no crossings.

These certificates are also accessible at the Stadsarchief Amsterdam, classified as

5Algemene Akten
Het betreft akten van overlijden (in 1940-1945) opgemaakt op schriftelijke aangifte van de Minister van Justitie.

It concerns deeds of death (in 1940-1945) drawn up on written declaration from the Secretary of Justice.

Example: Sophie Bier, killed in Sobibor, indexed at FS as died in Amsterdam:

"Netherlands, Noord-Holland, Civil Registration, 1811-1950", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 5 April 2018), Sophie Bier, 1943.

Note that the Amsterdam Archive has over 10,000 images with 6 certificates per image, so potentially 60K+ incorrect index records are involved.

Perhaps some of the Jewish or Holocaust related societies wrote to David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer at FamilySearch or corner him at one of the conferences or institutes he attends or teaches at.
The inability to correct published indexes on FS is not a policy, but a lack of appropriate technical setup. The unwillingness to prioritize the required programming above everything else is probably the result of a policy, though.
Is this an ongoing indexing project, or do you happen to remember: is the place of death an indexed field, or something filled in by pre- or post-processing?
There are ongoing Dutch projects on the new web indexing projects, but many of the incorrect records were done on the desktop program, which had more fields than the web program. I can't be 100% sure whether death place was indexed or not.
+7 votes

I know this isn't a recent post but I find the Memorial book for Victims of the Holocaust by far the best and most accurate way of finding where they died. This is the link

by Christine Frost G2G6 Pilot (156k points)

Yes Christine, the Gedenkbuch is a valuable resource. Problem is many Sobibor victims are not found there, or females only with their married name. Like Sophie Bier I mentioned above, can only be found at Gedenkbuch as Sophie Wolff. Dutch death certificates also list names of husband and parents if known.

Jan, if you only tick maiden name and first name and leave surname blank she will show up as Sophie née Bier together with Sophie Mayer née Bier; but if you want to search with maiden name only be sure you don't tick surname.

Christine, thanks for the hint! I always overlooked the maiden name checkbox, probably because in the Netherlands surnames for women are always their maiden names.

But still, many Sobibor victims cannot be found at the Gedenkbuch site. Just try some of these (press Get Profiles to produce the list).

Yes Jan, I see what you mean. I have been using it for German profiles and found everyone I searched for so far but it is obviously less reliable for the Netherlands.

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