Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Mailbox: Indexing Inaccuracy

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I hope that the accuracy rate for the FamilySearch 1940 Census Indexing is better than what I have experienced with

Today looked up about 20 families in Michigan and found errors on five of them including wrong places. One was listed in Briley, Montmorency Co, Michigan and should have been Evergreen Twp, Montcalm Co, Michigan. Another had Pine Twp, Montcalm Co and should have been Day Twp. They had the name Meek for Mark and Lealia for a man named Leslie and Shurn instead of Shurr. All were clearly legible in their correct form.

Happy they are being speedy, but I'd rather have more time taken to proofread the transcriptions...

Orange County, California

Dear Cherie,

Your experience echoes that of many. See for examples, comments made to my article last Thursday.

--The Insider


  1. I agree that the indexing for the 1940 census at is very bad. In one case, the indexer continued with the previous family's surname while indexing the next household. In several other cases, the indexer used an entirely different surname than the one written in the census, presumably because the actual surname was not on an "approved" list and the wrong surname was -- or is there some other possible explanation? As a consequence, I am using Family Search exclusvely for obtaining 1940 census data.

  2. Unfortunately, has never done a good job of indexing a census. My experience is that there is about a 20 percent error rate. Making it worse is that they don't seem to care as they leave the errors in the database even when notified and given proof of the errors.

  3. I found that lack of responsiveness as well, when I wrote to tell them that Cincinnati, OH is in Hamilton County, not a neighboring county as they list it. This seemed not to be of any concern.

  4. It is really pretty awful. I've come across dozens of entries so far that are wildly indexed with bizarre names when the handwriting is clearly legible and entries that have nothing to do with what is on the form. It pays to be incredibly creative with indexes - on Ancestry as well as others!

  5. I concur--I have yet to come across one entire family that did not have transcription errors--just a good magnifying glass in most cases was all that was needed to notice the error.

  6. Ancestry has always had problems with their indexing. If I were you, I would look at the 1940 Census on FamilySearch.


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