Friday, July 15, 2011

Darn FamilySearch?

Records say the darnedest things

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about our pasts.

Yet sometimes records have anomalies.
Some are amusing or humorous.
Some are interesting or weird.
Some are peculiar or suspicious.
Some are infuriating, even downright laughable.

Yes, Records Say the Darnedest Things.”

Pet Roach: Mother, Father, or Parent?

Several alert readers added additional commentary about the Pet Roach document mentioned in my article “Darned Indexes!

Dear Insider,

Why do you say Pet is a “young girl?” “Pet Roach” is given as the husband's parent, which could as easily be Travis's father as his mother.

Signed,
Bibliostuff*

Dear Bib,

Wow! You’re right. FamilySearch said that Pet was the mother and I believed them. Rechecking the image as you did, I see that FamilySearch manufactured that information. Pet Roach is a parent of unknown gender.

FamilySearch manufactured information that wasn't there Pet Roach is a parent of unspecified gender

I’m tempted to say, “shame on you FamilySearch.” I know the sentiment would ring true with many of you.

However, I think I know why this sort of thing happens. FamilySearch and Ancestry.com—any record publisher—must strike a balance between quantity and quality. The genealogist in me thinks that FamilySearch sacrifices too much quality. The engineer in me says that the cost of handling exceptions is astronomical.

Signed,
-- The Insider

The subsequent commenter illuminated the expected source of the parent’s gender.

Dear Insider,

How'm I supposed to do some work if you guys keep making interesting comments?

Looking at this image, I think it highly likely that the form has actually been completed incorrectly anyway! If you go to the next image, the way the form is filled out makes sense.

It is likely the form is completed incorrectly
The subsequent image is completed correctly

How are we supposed to interpret records if they're not correctly filled in in the first place?!

Signed,
Adrian B*

Dear readers,

The take away is that indexes are finding aids whose evidentiary value is nowhere close to that of transcriptions, abstracts, or summaries. Without the images, the index is suspect.

Yes, records—especially indexes—say the darnedest things.

1 comment:

  1. According to 1930 census, Oklahoma, JACKSON, NAVAJO TWP, 33-26, Sheet 10b, Travis (the groom on canceled 1941 marriage record) was son of Earnest W. and Clara F. Roach.

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