Thursday, November 9, 2017

Find A Grave Search Quirks on FamilySearch

I wrote about the new Find A Grave website today in Updated Find A Grave Website Adds Decent Source Citations using my ancestor Elizabeth H. (Dill) Smith as the example.


I wanted to compare the Find A Grave source citation with the FamilySearch and other citations, so I searched on FamilySearch for the Find A Grave record collection.  Searching that, I couldn't find Elizabeth Smith's memorial on FamilySearch using exact first and last names, years, etc.  Frustrated, I moved on to something else.

This afternoon, I thought to myself - "it must be there, but perhaps the indexing is quirky." 

1)  On FamilySearch, I input "elizabeth" as an inexact first name and "smith" as an exact last name, added an  date of "1840 to 1870" and "Medfield" for "Any place" in order to narrow the search, and saw:


No matches.  But I know she's there!

2)  Okay, I searched with only the surname exact, and got 17 matches:

17 Matches, but none were my Elizabeth Smith.  I still know she's there!

3)  I put "elizabeth" back in as a first name, but "not exact," and used "smith" as the last name, but "not exact:"


Yay!!  That worked.  Why?  Obviously, it has to do with the last name that was indexed.

4)  What if I used "dill smith" as a last name, and made it "exact?"


Yep, that worked too.  Did FamilySearch index these records using the maiden name combined with the last name?  Maybe.  Here is the record summary for this record:


The first names and last names are not in separate fields.  They do have a separate field for the assumed maiden name.

There is a decent EE-quality source citation for this record also:

"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV2W-F7Q4 : 11 July 2016), Elizabeth H. Dill Smith, 1869; Burial, Medfield, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States of America, Vine Lake Cemetery; citing record ID 60037924, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.

I learned from this exercise that I need to be careful searching in this Find A Grave collection on FamilySearch.  I don't know how pervasive this "feature" "quirk" is, but it baffled me for hours today.  If it baffles me, it probably baffles many other researchers.

Two lessons learned here:

*  Users should not use "exact" search for the first and last name fields in this collection on FamilySearch.  

*  This may be why Record Matches for Find A Grave don't appear on some FamilySearch Family Tree profiles.  


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Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

Marian Koalski said...

That's disturbing news, isn't it, Randy? A lot of the time, we're lucky if we know ONE surname for a search, let alone two.