Monday, August 28, 2017

Why Does the Ancestry API For Web Hints Add Bogus Facts?

Geneablogger Russ Worthington investigated a disturbing event iObservations about the new Ancestry API over the weekend, and Pat Richley-Erickson made astute comments in her blog post Oops! There was no “mother” field in the 1900 census despite field label.

Russ and Pat found that there were extraneous fields in the Ancestry API for the 1900 U.S. Census data transferred to Family Tree Maker 2017 and RootsMagic by the Ancestry API used to transfer data back and forth to an Ancestry Member Tree.  As Russ and Pat pointed out, there is no field on the 1900 United States Census for "citizenship" or "ethnicity" or "culture" that might be filled in with "American" as a value.  On Family Tree Maker, Russ received an "Ethnicity" Fact with the value of "American."

I checked a number of my ancestors for the 1900 U.S. Census collection in a RootsMagic Ancestry Web Hint and every one of them has a "Miscellaneous" Fact with an "American" value.

What about persons born in other countries?  I used my great-grandmother, Georgianna (Kemp) Auble born in 1868 in Canada, and residing in Chicago, Illinois in the 1900 U.S. census.  Here is the Ancestry Web Hint in RootsMagic for the 1900 census:

Yep, there is a "Miscellaneous" Fact with the value of "American."  Not shown on the screen above, there are blank Facts for Father's birthplace and Mother's birthplace.

Some might say that "Well, she was in the United States in 1900, so they assumed she was an "American."

What about someone born in Mexico?  I added a person named Jesus Castro born about 1875 in Mexico to my database, uploaded it to my Ancestry Member Tree, and received a Hint for the 1900 U.S. Census.  Here is the Ancestry Web Hint for the 1900 U.S. Census in RootsMagic:

He also has a "Miscellaneous" Fact with a value of "American."

I did the same thing for a man born in 1880 in Russia residing in Missouri in the 1900 U.S. Census, and he had a "Miscellaneous" Fact with a value of "American."

I wondered if there were other databases with extraneous Facts to be transferred, and I did not find another U.S. Census record collection that had a similar Fact.  I have not checked every Ancestry record collection.  

The major problem here is that the API that transfers data to and from RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker to an Ancestry Member Tree has included BOGUS Facts that are not supported by the actual census record.  

Nobody knows if other record collections transfer Bogus Facts using the Ancestry API.  Somebody did this, and it needs to be corrected immediately.  I recommend that:

* should FIX the API that transfers information to and from an Ancestry Member Tree to delete ALL BOGUS Facts such as "American" in the 1900 census. 

* should identify other BOGUS information transferred by the API in other record collections and and FIX the API so that only information in the actual record are transferred by the API.

*  RootsMagic 7 needs to delete the specific "Miscellaneous" Fact that has a value of "American" in the 1900 census.  There are other "Facts" that are "blank" but are in the Ancestry Web Hints for the 1900 census.  Users can add them to their RootsMagic Person if desired.  Those "blank" Facts should be identified in the API information.  RootsMagic users should investigate closely the Ancestry Web Hints for other BOGUS Facts in other record collections.  

*  Family Tree Maker 2017 should delete the specific "Ethnicity" Fact that has a value of "American" in the 1900 census.  FTM 2017 users should investigate closely if there are other BOGUS Facts in the 1900 census and other record collections.

I have not and will not transfer information using Ancestry Web Hints to my RootsMagic database until this issue is fully corrected and tested.  I really don't want to crap up my RootsMagic database with BOGUS Facts and information.


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Unknown said...

Not to put too fine of a point on this, but...
the 1900 census DOES, in a sense, have a 'mother' field.
The question of how many children a woman has had/how many are alive in 1900 is included in the census.
Wish it were so for all census years!
-- April

Geolover said...

It should be noted that the children borne/living entries for some women in the 1900 and 1910 US Census listings do not necessarily apply to persons also living in the household.

Also, at times Ancestry has added "ethnicity" items to WV marriage record extracts. No such data appears in the original records.