Dear Ancestry Insider,
What is the difference between the third date of calling banns and a date of marriage? Nothing, according to the indexing projects at FamilySearch, the genealogy side of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
A few days ago, I downloaded a batch of marriage records to transcribe from the “UK, Cornwall-Pariah Registers, 1538-1900” project in FamilySearch Indexing. Upon looking at the register images, I immediately spotted that these were banns rather than marriage entries. The project expects the indexer to enter the third date of calling the banns as the date of marriage! Having transcribed many thousands of banns and marriages for parishes in Cornwall, I know that a number of these proposed marriages never actually took place at all—so how could FamilySearch allow this to happen?
I decided to email the support team at FamilySearch. The reply was not very helpful:
“…The completed index and links to digital images to this project will be freely accessible online to the general public when the collection is published. Researchers will be able to pull up the image and see that the marriage date is actually the third banns date instead of the actual date of marriage.”
The inexperienced or those perhaps in a hurry to solve a problem may just take the marriage details as being exactly what FamilySearch indicates—a marriage—and not just the calling of banns for a proposed marriage. FamilySearch appears to be happy to accept incorrect and quite simply misleading indexing to appear on their website.
I’m interested in your views.
FamilySearch has made the decision that minor compromises in genealogical integrity allow it to publish a greater quantity of records and access to images offsets the decrease in integrity. By carefully making these compromises, the overall value delivered to the public is increased.
There is another ramification that FamilySearch may not have considered. FamilySearch provides hints in FamilySearch Family Tree to its historical records. When the record is attached, the user has the option of adding record information to the tree. The banns date is added to the tree as a marriage date. So while the FamilySearch Trees team is busy taking steps to improve the quality of data in Family Tree, the Records team is taking steps that degrade it.
---The Ancestry Insider
As is the usual practice, the Ancestry Insider edited Mark’s message before publication.