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.”
Records Say the Darnedest Things: Darned Overly Helpful Indexers
It was a usual practice back in the days of indexing the U.S. censuses to use other census years to help decipher hard to read text. I admit; I did it too. But I always wondered if the extra work would go for naught, knowing that an arbitrator might not be as diligent. I always wished I had a way to enter a note that was sent to the arbitrator, explaining how I had deciphered the entry and asking that they give extra weight to my efforts.
I recently came across an entry in the 1870 census wherein the indexer had found a creative way to send such a note to the arbitrator: The indexer included the note in the name field:
The indexer had found Bricius spelled differently in the 1860 census, so had made a note of it as part of her name. Now Bricius’s name is “Bricius (Briceus-186o Cs)”. Likewise with “Reymond (Raymond-186o Cs)”.
This entry is doubly disturbing. Why in the world did the arbitrator not fix this?
And how did FamilySearch allow it? It would be a simple computerized check for FamilySearch to detect this aberration. It could have automatically been flagged for intervention. Perhaps it could have been sent back to a FamilySearch missionary or another arbitrator. Two arbitrators would need to agree that the entry was an acceptable exception to the rule.
If anyone at FamilySearch is listening, perhaps these suggestions could be incorporated into next year’s new version of FamilySearch indexing.
Darned those overly helpful indexers!