Thursday, July 30, 2009

Making Index Updates

I posted yesterday about the changes to their Record Image pages, at least for 11 census databases. In that post, I described the Record Image page, but did not discuss the changes that has made to the user's capability to modify more than the name of a record.

When a user submits a modification to one or more parts of any record on, the original index information is not changed - it is added to. Another entry is put into the database with the modified entry ("updated") submitted by the user.

Here is the process I used yesterday to modify the surname of one of my families that were incorrectly indexed in the 1870 U.S. census. I looked for my great-grandfather, born Henry Austin Carringer in 1853 in PA, and I knew that he lived in Iowa in 1870. He should be with his parents David J. and Rebecca Carringer and his brother Harvey Edgar Carringer. Finding him was a challenge because of how his name was indexed, but I eventually found him in the 1870 census in Washington County, Iowa indexed as Henry A. Current. Here is the screen shot of the census record:

As you can see, the name is difficult to read - the enumerator's scrawl is almost as bad as mine). I can understand how it was indexed as "Current" and not "Curruntr" or similar. I can almost see the letter "g" in the surname but it's hidden by Rebecca's "b". But I absolutely KNOW that the surname is "Carringer" based on other records, so I want to UPDATE the index for all five members of the family.

Henry's name is highlighted in the index, so I clicked on the "Add Update" button on the left side of his name:

The popup box above offers to change either the Family Number, the Given Name, the Surname, the Estimated Birth Year or the Birth Place. I chose the Surname. Once I did that, another field appeared in the popup box and I had to choose between Transcription Error, Incorrect in Image, Nick Name, Maiden Name, Name Change or Variation.

I chose "Transcription Error" (even though it probably wasn't - now that I look carefully at the image, it should have been an "Incorrect in Image" reason). Once I selected "Transcription Error" then I could add the "correct" Surname to the bottom field in the popup box:

After putting "Carringer" in the "Add an update for Surname" field, I clicked on the orange "Submit Alternate" button and my "Member Contribution" was recorded, and shows up in the Index on the screen below:

Clicking on the orange "Close" button completed this "Update." I proceeded to do the same exercise for the rest of the D.J. Carringer (indexed as "Current" family - all five of them (daughter Effie appears below the edge of the screen below) and saw:

So I have successfully updated the surname for this family in the 1870 US Census. If the given names, birth year or birth place was erroneous, I could have updated them also. All of the other data is OK with me for this family.

Now when will this Update show up in the 1870 US Census index on I don't know - maybe days or weeks later. It's been about 24 hours already and they don't come up on a search for "Henry" and "Carringer" in the search fields. I'll let you know when it does!

This Update or Correction feature is an excellent way to overcome Enumerator and Indexing errors and find elusive ancestors in the US census records. Of course, the users need to make the Updates for their families in order for another user to use the updated index to find the right people.

Is the only company that offers this Update service and eventually adds the information to their databases? They are to be commended for this feature.


Brooke said...

Wow, thanks SO much for posting that!!! I never knew that this could be done, submitting a correction. I have two family members that are indexed incorrectly and would LOVE to do the same for them. Thank you very much for sharing... :o)

Geolover said...

While not a "company," the WV Div. of History and Culture does accept and implement record indexing corrections, bless 'em.

LDS, however, does not provide a way to correct site items that are wrongly indexed/extracted (there are many such).