Not a Question: FamilySearch wrinkle when searching for events in the United States

+24 votes
303 views

As many here, I’ve spent hours searching for marriage, birth, and death records that should be in collections at FamilySearch.org and yet I can’t find them.  Tonight, I discovered one problem which I thought was contained to Georgia (USA) death records but is not.

Recently, I’ve been working on farming families that all were born, lived, and died within a few counties in Georgia.  I discovered that by limiting my search to the state of Georgia within the United States, I’m not seeing thousands of records.  Many of the records in births, marriages, and deaths are all locations indexed to be in Continental Europe.  Frequently even the quick “events” results that come up next to the search name, will say United States after the location.  I have no idea how these records got classified as being in Continental Europe (and other places besides the USA) but they did.  Sadly, this is not confined to Georgia.  Just checking around, other large collections in Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, and other states all have this same location problem.

So, heads up.  Logically, your man A. Armstrong was born in Alabama and his birth record is in the Alabama birth records collection as he was born in Montgomery co.(sic) just where you’d expect him except, illogically, his birth record is location indexed as the United Kingdom.  If you don’t find him where you’d expect in Montgomery County, Alabama, be sure to check the other places his record could be “located” – like Africa, UK, Continental Europe, etc. 

in The Tree House by Kathy Zipperer G2G6 Pilot (288k points)
edited by Kathy Zipperer
Have you communicated with FamilySearch about this?

BTW, there is a country named Georgia, which was part of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, but today is an independent nation
George -- no I haven't contacted FamilySearch yet.  I do know of the country Georgia.  Sadly, it's not just Georgia (indexed in Europe) that's a problem.  

The country Georgia shows up in the state of Georgia suggestions for data doctors every week although there usually are less than 100 problems.
It's unfortunate that WikiTree treats the name "Georgia" as uniquely associated with the United States, because much of the world believes that the primary meaning of the name is the nation of Georgia.

It sounds like FamilySearch has a similar problem, except they have treated all references to Georgia as referring to the nation.
and then there's the song ''Georgia on my mind''.

Nice catch Kathy.  And thanks for the advisory.
I was worried that many would think this was only about Georgia (USA) and Georgia, the country.  Unfortunately, it is a much bigger problem with many collections of births, deaths, and marriages that are in state collections (USA) but the indexing locations puts these records in other countries around the world.
I agree that there are many mis-indexed databases on FamilySearch. This is a problem when people search by location (as you were doing), and also when people trust FamilySearch's index data.

I've found Mayflower passengers indexed in Iowa.

And I have a long-running disagreement with another WikiTreer regarding the location of an English parish where several BMD events occurred in the late 1500s and early 1600s. FamilySearch has misidentified the place where this particular film is from (no apparent relationship to the actual location). I've seen the images of the parish records on FindMyPast, so I'm pretty sure I know what parish they are from, but this other member believes that FamilySearch is correct, apparently because he can see the FamilySearch index record on their website, but he hasn't personally perused the FindMyPast website where I got the images I sent him.

As J. Palotay says, FamilySearch doesn't correct these errors when they are reported.

Ellen, maybe we should always check Iowa for records.wink  I know now not to ignore those birth dates in 1000, etc. that couldn't possibly apply.  And, I'll make sure I check through errant death places, residence places, etc. before I rule them out by location alone.

As an indexer, I've always trusted Family Search to put the Alabama births or the North Carolina marriages in their proper states.  There is no way I ever realized that somehow those records could wind up located in Africa or Asia because some programmer didn't know (or didn't care to check) how to code properly.

there are errors in their indexing for parishes in this province also (Québec), some of the parish names they use are not quite accurate.  A couple of our members are creating an index for our use here, although this is a long-term project.
I was wondering why Ancestry has records that really should be found on Familysearch.  This totally explains it.

4 Answers

+12 votes
Thank you Kathy for letting us know about this glitch. We should all go back and check on those records we have not been able to find; if we find them indexed where they should not be, immediately notify Family Search. If enough researchers do this, maybe the corrections will be made. You all have heard the saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the oil".
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (511k points)
Contacting FamilySearch about errors in indexes is an exercise in frustration, unless your only goal was to see what their boilerplate text currently says on the topic.

There is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, though: the index-correction feature introduced last summer currently only applies to (some) names, but there have been indications that they're working on expanding it to (some) dates and places, Real Soon Now.

Thanks J.  I did contact them.  I suspect I will receive the boiler plate text but I'm sure, being me, that I'll send them another message to see what the next boiler plate message is.devil

+5 votes
This is a known and not uncommon problem with FS.  Besides using the general search box, you should also use their card catalog and retrieve the list of records by location to then search or browse. You should also use the map on the main page to select an individual country and then search or browse the records.  The location, type of records, etc information can be located in different areas of the MARC record and hopefully one of them is correct.  Catalogers and data entry workers sometime don't understand what the records are and problems work their way into the system. Currently only some personal names can be corrected, but hopefully this feature will be expanded.
by Michelle Enke G2G6 Pilot (243k points)
+4 votes
I'm trying to update some old profiles, and I'm seeing a lot of this on Family Search recently.  It seems broader than just indexing or data entry problems, or confusion about similar place names.  In some cases I know records exist, because I had them listed in the old profiles.  Now if I start a clean search, using search parameters that should take me to those records, they're nowhere to be found.  Sometimes there are no records at all using those parameters, sometimes there are records that aren't even close to meeting the search criteria.  But if I use an old link that I had with the original profile, that still works.  I think there's some major bug in their search algorithm, in addition to whatever other problems they may have.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (385k points)
I totally agree with your analysis.  Something has changed in the last few months and the search algorithm is not only not working all the time (like you can get different results on different days using the same search terms), but it also seems to return records that don't meet the parameters, etc.
+5 votes
It seems it would be useful for someone to set up a WikiTree free-space page listing such known errors.  It could be publicized on G2G and referenced where useful.
by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (312k points)
Problem is, it's a moving target: they keep inventing new ways to mess up things that used to work just fine.

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