What on earth are Familysearch doing to English censuses?

+6 votes

Has anyone else noticed the random capitalisation of middle names on Familysearch English census search results, which are then being used in such a way as to imply it is a first or preferred name? It is making a complete nonsense of the census and is just plain inaccurate. I don't know what they are doing but they are completely wasting their time and mine. I've just seen a family where in the first column, it says:

John Henry Elliott
England and Wales Census, 1911

He isn't Henry, he's John, he never used Henry as his preferred name, so why the emphasis on the middle name?

His children are listed as:

Hannah Elizabeth Elliott, ELIZABETH, Hilda Elliott

Except there is no ELIZABETH. He has two children, Hannah Elizabeth Elliott and Hilda Elliott.

When you click the dropdown, everything is normal, it's just the search results that are borked.

Earlier tonight I found someone's wife who was coming up as ANN in the results, when Ann is her middle name. This could clearly throw someone off in completely the wrong direction or make them miss a source. They might even be led to think it was a remarriage.

I just thought I'd bring it up here so people know Familysearch is giving misleading search results.

asked in The Tree House by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (164k points)
edited by Maggie N.

3 Answers

+7 votes
I haven't personally noticed this but you can go in to the records and change what has been transcribed incorrectly. I've done this very type of editing on several family documents. For entrance, One of my great Aunt's name was indexed on her death certificate as Anna when in fact her first name was Aura. Talk a adding confusion. I changed the indexing on the document and explained my changes and why the document was changed/corrected.
answered by Tony Lacey G2G6 Mach 3 (30.4k points)
How exactly do you do that? I've used Familysearch for years and never found that facility.

You can edit the trees but that's not what I'm talking about, I mean the results that come up in a records search. Nobody should be able to alter those willy-nilly.
I would be interested to know that, too.  I have never found it either.  You can do it on FindMyPast, certainly - you offer a suggested correction, they look at it and change it if they think you are right, but I have never found a similar thing on FamilySearch.
Attach the document you know belongs with the person's profile but is indexed incorrectly. On their profile page, click on the source title, then look up at the top of the source. You will see an area with words in Blue. Click the one that says Edit, then edit the word that was indexed incorrectly, give your reason for changing the record, click save and the record is corrected. Trying to add some screenshots of the process but have to add them to a profile here to do so. It's not difficult to correct the record. Know that the edit will only change the name of the tittle and not the actual error on document indexing.
Sorry, I am going to have to wait for those screenshots.  I found the words in blue, but cannot see 'Edit' anywhere.  Must be looking in the wrong place...

(and btw, I am logged into FS)
Still trying to figure out to upload a screenshot here without a URL. Not looking like it's going to happen unless someone can educate me on rhe procedure. Anyone?

Open the death certificate source on this profile and you'll see what I am referring too. As I said previously, you cannot change the indexed document but you can correct the title of the source itself.


Ah, I see what you mean now.  But you are changing the incorrect wording after it is attached to a profile.  It will still be incorrect to other people when they search for it in the main database.

For example: say the woman had been incorrectly indexed as 'Aurora'.  Once you attach the source to her profile, you can go in and edit it so it says 'Aura'.  However, other people searching will still find her as 'Aurora'.  Your editing has not changed the main public database.  You cannot change the search results.

+4 votes

I used to help key transcriptions via FamilySearch indexing ... to help give something back to a free resource.  Although I was quite happy to contribute to the free information on this free site ...  I stopped due to the site trying to include information within the transcriptions that just wasn’t there.  Haven’t keyed any documents for a few years now, as I just found the transcriptions were too often incorrectly corrected!

It’s great that it’s free, but once the document has been transcribed, the majority of documents disappear from view.  In my opinion what you see in the transcription isn’t always as it appears in the actual document. 

answered by Lesley Scott G2G6 (7.8k points)
0 votes
I cannot speak to the Family Search issue or to your specific family, but perhaps they are catering to my family tree?  Swapping first and middle names repeatedly seemed endemic to my Clark and faghey lines at least.  My father has been back and forth between Charles Edward and Edward Charles on various govt. documents and all of his siblings and uncles called him Teddie even though it was always Charlie.  His mother's records seem to bounce back and forth as Bertha Ann or Annie Bertha.  

Family Search programmers may have decided that the database needs to index both ways.  Maybe there were misleading forms in the 1800~1930 period or maybe a wave of migration brought people through the UK, Canada, and US that simply misunderstood the forms.  Hard to say why, but I can say I doubt they did it just to make things more confusing.
answered by Jeff Clark G2G4 (4.5k points)
The whole point of transcribing a document is to say exactly what has been put, not create a fantasy out of what might have been in some alternative reality.
I couldn't agree more.  Not all software intelligence is (intelligent).

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