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Thoughts on Correcting Errors in the Records

Situation:
FamilySearch offerings do not today allow a user to annotate or correct an error in the record transcription, nor is there currently a means for anyone internally to do this for the user.

Status:
We clearly understand the need, it is on our roadmaps and drawing boards and a significant amount of time is being invested to design, test and build such a capability. No expected date has been announced.

A few thoughts:
Transcription (indexing) errors happen for a number of reasons and in some cases are pretty much unavoidable no matter how good the software or our eyes are today. These errors are found in every record collection and are introduced by every indexing system out there. Here's a few reasons:

1) There may be a mismatch between the language of the record and the indexer's knowledge causing diacritics to be missed or combined characters to be misinterpreted
2) The handwriting may be nearly incomprehensible, nearly being the operative word, and the transcription is attempted but transcribed wrong
3) The census taker may have written down what he heard rather than clarify the name's spelling
4) The office census worker who transcribed into the official record what the door to door census taker wrote may have introduced spelling errors (they had to read the guy's crazy handwriting too).
5) The variant spelling may actually have been used by the new immigrant for a while after they arrived in the country because that is what some employer or immigration worker wrote down.
6) any number of others

To minimize the risk of additional errors being introduced into the records during indexing a redundant indexing with arbitration system has been devised. Each record is key twice by 2 different indexers. Entered data that mismatches between the two is sent to a third indexer that has been designated as an arbiter based on skill to make the final call. Statistical analysis has shown that this process results in very low novel error rates. Unfortunately nothing can programmatically address errors written into the record around the time of creation.

When a patron finds their ancestor and knows that a name is incorrect they logically want to correct it so that it can be properly searched, found and recorded by those who come after.

The FamilySearch system does not currently allow a user to make corrections or annotations on a record. Nor does it provide a way for a user to submit these errors so that someone internally can make the correction. This user need, however, is well understood and a significant amount of time is being invested in mapping out a system that would allow user corrections/annotation to a record. We cannot yet announce a date when such a feature will be available, but it is on the roadmaps and drawing boards.

-Robert
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  • To bad! Some people remine lost just for those errors!
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  • I’m indifferent
    Some arbitrators should be told to open up a counties page and do some of their own correcting. I have had a couple that I know are wrong and how they come up with some of their RIGHTS is too hard to explain. don't they give a hoot what is happening?
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  • I’m frustrated
    Can someone PLEASE review 1940 South Carolina #005461907. The handwriting is different but consistent and there are serious errors in the arbitration of this page. Some of these are my own family and right now they will be forever incorrect in the 1940 index.
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  • I’m very very frustrated
    I dislike reminding project leadership of the mistakes made when newFamilySearch was put into place and all the problems associated with those mistakes, many of which we are just now able to start correcting through Family Tree.

    Please, please, please, do not make the same mistake with the massive indexing projects now underway by failing to fully address the need to make corrections to the indexing errors being introduced into the system. Indexing errors are costly, in terms of wasted hours spent trying to figure out how to find a misspelled name in an index. While some of the search features help narrow down the records, not being able to correct misspelled indexes produces records that are not acceptable and as the public is allowed into Family Tree, the Church once again will receive well deserved criticism by professionals and amateurs alike for sloppy work. Ancestry.com, for all its shortcomings, had the foresight to provide a means to correct badly indexed entries. There is no reason why the Church should not have at least learned from the ancestry.com example and provide the same level of service.

    Again, I ask that a method to correct entry errors be made the highest possible priority before we go much further down the road and have to once again, change tires at 60 mph.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I hope we will be able to make corrections in our own personal family histories soon. I have found errors in marriages, etc, and I am worried that those who come after me will have the wrong information. I have been told that it will all be straightened out in our spirit world, but I feel frustrated about it here.
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  • On a whim, and knowing that in the not-distant future I will be working with my children in teaching them to search for thier ancestral records, I "researched" the 1940s census records for my father, and his father's family. I could not find my father in a record search - his given name is "Norville." So did the record search of my grandfather (Wilford) and found the family census record. My father's name was indexed as "Gorville." I can see based on the handwriting if looking only at my father's record how this could have happened - but in looking at the two or three subsequent pages, there is a clear and obvious difference in the way the capital G and N are written - - No excuse, however, will accrue for my uncle (Melford) for being recorded as "Wilford Jr."
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  • I’m Hopeful
    My father in law's name was spelled wrong on one of the items that I found. Also his wife's name was spelled wrong. I do not understand how this is so rampant, and yet they do not offer us a correction.
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  • The task of the 1940 census has been mammoth and I have also spent many hours helping. It is very difficult to get it right sometimes, but I too have found a name that should have been extracted Walter B Hamm and was extracted Wallis B Hanne. Looking forward to the time when these things can be corrected. I am hopeful the technology will happen soon for the sake of everyone who is searching. Thanks for all of your hard work.
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  • I’m frustrated
    We in the Church are fairly meticulous in keeping good records and seems to be something out of wack that doesn't allow for corrections to our personal family names (lines). I realize it takes time to develop software (I designed computers for 30 yrs). Maybe a solution to many frustrated users, specially those that know their lineage, would be to discontinue the "indexing" until the software is developed to correct the acknowledged errors commited by indexing. We are admonished by the Prophet to do our individual genealogy for our own salvation. I would hope that you all would have a simiular motovation in assisting us to get our genealogy correct. Thank you in advance for you continued efforts.
    S George Peery
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  • My ancestor Reuben Hall is listed as a female in the 1850 census, and his name is indexed as Rudeen on Family Search (Ancestry has it correct). In the census it is clearly Rueben (SP)- not sure how they got Rudeen. Perhaps the incorrect gender threw them off. In the 1860 census, the gender is listed correctly. It would be very helpful in avoiding future erros to be able to both:

    1 - Correct transcription errors - Rueben instead of Rudeen, in this case.
    2 - Add notes to point out entry errors in the original document - i.e. in this case indicating that Rueben is a male and is correctly shown as such in the 1860 cenus for the same family.

    Thanks for all your work.
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  • I find it very difficult to believe this website is unable to add a system for correcting indexing errors. Just look at ancestry.com. They have it. So, if ancestry.com can do it, why can't familysearch? Don't tell me it's a matter of not enough money to put towards fixing the problem. The LDS Church owns this site and they have more than enough money.
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    • Actually, I frequently correct transcription errors on ancestry, as I have for a number of years. It's actually an extremely clean system that allows correction of most facts, as well as entering explanations of why. You might want to look again. The great thing is that corrections show in the index, meaning that it's easy for someone else to find a person after one of us makes a correction.
    • If you have an Ancestry account, you CAN add the correct information to the data base, at least for the 1940 Census. That way both the incorrect, and the corrected data, point to the same record. It is an easy work around with Ancestry.

      Hope the same will be true with Family Search's system and soon!
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  • There should be some way to make simple changes like obvious simple errors in the name of one person in the family having a different spelling than the rest. For instance my great great grandmother's name shows her last name as Packer whereas everyone else in the family was named Parker. It could be because her husband was a glass PACKER!!
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  • After just a couple months using Family Search, I have found 1 last name error and 2 surname errors. If we could at least be notified when a fix is available, then we could provide information regarding the correction needed. I also input data, and find it discouraging that families who know of errors have no way to correct them. The index would be so much more valuable if corrections were possible.

    When is it expected that there will be a solution to correcting errors?

    Dorothy Usa
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  • I’m Frustrated
    I was doing work on my wife family and found one family member listed with the correct date of birth, married to the same woman, but two different sets of parents, one set is really his grandparents, two different places of birth, also listed were two different dates and places of death.
    the needs tobe a way to fix these problems
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  • I understand a reluctance to allow millions of people the access to change indexed data, but I don't understand how it could be so difficult to add fields to reflect alternate, i.e., corrected spellings to names. Those alternate fields could be searchable, too. It would be nice to see my grandmother's name correctly reflected in the 1930 census as Roxie alongside the inept indexer's interpretation: Raxil. Or my great-great grandfather's last name given the correct alternate of Stewart rather than the transcriber's miskeyed 'Setwart' in the 1880 census.
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  • I’m frustrated
    The children of Alvin P. Curnel & Estelle are Eliane Curnel, Greathel, Leona Oma. Odell, Thelma, Audie Odis, Alva, Leva, Charles William (C.W), Hollis, Marjory Jean, my mother, and Vivian.
    Not Rena, Josie, or Sarah.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I understand the reluctance to correct an indexing error, however when the surname as placed in thee census is 100% readable and 2 indexers both spelled the surname incorrectly it seems that anyone with a little smarts would be able to make the correction.
    I am talking about the Surname 'OSTRUM" in a family record in NY state in 1940. The census taker spelled it right 1 family member is still alive and agrees that is the proper spelling however 2 indexers decided that it should be spelled "OSTRUN"
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  • I am also amazed you cannot fix problems. Having 4 sets of parents listed is an obvious mistake. Knowing the correct parents and not being able to denote that information is hard to ignore. I'm not sure the tree should have been public until there is a system for corrections in place.
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  • I’m sorry
    I have found an obvious mistake when researching for someone buried at a local cemetery, the search being done for a friend's family. The marriage record, which I found on FamilySearch, was for Catherine Bell, when I found it the first time on FamlySearch it was listed as Catherine Ball. This mistake was obvious. I cannot fathom how it slipped by the two extractors and the arbitrator! The writing on the original was perfect and clear!
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  • I’m happy for my inovative idea!
    One way to correct the errors in familysearch as it is now, is to add a box where signed-in patrons can add a word or phrase that represents how they see the original record. For instance, I found Catherine Ball in the Historical Records search. I clicked on her name, and found that I could click to see the original record. The original read very clearly: Catherine Bell. In this case I would click on a box or link that would add the name that I saw on the reocord: "Bell". The system could keep oh, perhaps 5 or so different interpretations of the mistake as seen by other viewers. That would help tremendously in accuracy of transcription and help others researching those family lines.
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  • I’m smiling :)
    When you get a frowny face, never let it stay
    Turn that frown right upside down and smile that frown away! :)
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  • Much to my regret, when I do find a mistake that I can justify from my own knowledge, I can correct it only on ancestry.com. The errors are more numerous on ancestry, but I have the option to correct it on Ancestry.
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  • I worked on the indexing. I understand the issues of indexing, I recently found because a distant cousin who located my ancestor on Danish census and taught me to use Danish searches and also found my immigrant ancestors parents...because of their names I found the misspelling in the marriage index of the remarriage....a 20 year blank has been completed and a family member found. Correcting it would assist others..I have seen the Ancestry corrections...and some are wrong too.. I hope one day we can find a solution to the need. Thank you
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  • I’m frustrated
    I just wish someone could put Johannesburg in South Africa into Transvaal, instead of the Cape Province. At least then foreigners could actually establish that Johannesburg is a very large city of 20 million people.
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  • I’m annoyed by the situation
    I'd like to be able to remove the asterisk from my great-grandmother's name. That's not a transcription error, that's a blatant mistake. The transcription rules clearly state that you don't add punctuation. Though I do understand why some of the transcriptions are as dreadful as they are. I've picked up some partial batches that had been transcribed by someone who could neither read nor spell. Their 'guesses' were totally off the mark. Some people should not be allowed to transcribe.
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  • I have my own theory that when the site was set up, almost every support person I talked to spoke like a robot about 'combining records'. And I know that they were not allowed to submit a request without combining records. Surely with all of the dirty data in the system, and the false positives that the current software allows for, that most of the combine errors were done by the support staff themselves.

    What I am at a total loss for is why with such a large collection of data there is not software in place to check for data quality -- that is, it should be very obvious to data quality 'sniffing' software that a collection of records that include 6 different last names is a high candidate for data quality issues.
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  • albertsmommy For those of us who spend hundreds of hours working to correct blatant errors an asterisk is an extremely small nit to worry about. But I can tell you that these things have been put in place in the past for some really good reasons. There are some people who have adopted conventions for making entries so that they can visually differentiate their entries from others (in the cases where some individuals are going through their entire family history to 'validate' the data and correct errors).

    For others, it's an ego thing, which doesn't really count.

    And lastly, in the cases where there are people of the same name so hopelessly intertwined with commingled data of different people, when we are trying to 'find' a particular person in a collection of spouse records, the only way to 'tell' the difference is to make the name visually different. Some people do that with whatever characters they can so they can 'find' the records in order to help manage them (since the system was never designed for one of the primary tasks of its lifecycle -- data management).
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  • I have worked both as an indexer and an arbitrator, and now I have also gone back and looked at my parents' families and found errors in the spellings of my maternal grandmother's name and in my father's sister's name. In both cases I can clearly see how the mistakes were made. The capital "V" in my aunt's name looks like a "D" due to handwriting (although the "e" at the end is clear, yet was still rendered an "a" apparently by both indexers), and the "i" in my grandmother's name was rendered an "e" apparently because the dot is too faint or nonexistent above it. The mistakes are clear to me because I know what I am looking at, while to the indexers they were both strangers. And if the indexers both made the same mistake, the arbitrator would likely never see it. Can't we insert another level of review that can allow for corrections by family members - after arbitration? We have both the personal information and the motivation to get it right.
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  • Thanks so much for your answer to my correctioning question. I hope that when this finally becomes available for us to correct mistakes that you will post that in your newsletter.
    Thanks again,
    Charles Brennaaun
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  • I’m frustrated
    I find it just unbelieveable that we cannot indicate in some small way obvious errors in transcript......
    I was searching Astle and found the marriage of Joseph Astle. His wife's name was given as MANLE, this should be Maule..... also the place of marriage is incorrect.
    I have a copy of the marriage certificate.
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  • Hi!
    I find a big mistake in the records of 'Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592-1910'

    For example Tamas Marschalko 'https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1...'
    the real name of the person is: Tamas Schultz!!!!

    The record analiser changed the 'parents' with the 'godparents'.

    In hungarian: 'szülők' equal with in english: parents!
    In hungarian: 'keresztszülők' equal with in english: godparents!

    And on the same sheet i find a real Marschalko, who's father is Imre Marschalko, but she is on her godparents lastname!

    Please correct the mistakes!

    thanks.
    Mark Marschalko
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  • I’m frustrated
    I, too, am seriously dismayed at the errors in the indexing. My family name (Rethard) is frequently misspelled, misrecorded, misinterpreted, etc., not just in the 1940 index, but in most other sources, so it can be a major source of frustration. What's worse, it is not at all unusual for "Richard" written with bad handwriting to be interpreted as "Rethard", leading me on many wild goose chases over the years. Such errors are a fact of life in genealogy.

    That being said, the fact that the ability to correct such errors in the index is not only absent, but apparently unplanned, is a major oversight. As a software designer of 40+years experience, I find it both unimaginable and inexcusable that this is the case!

    For those who are as frustrated as I, the best approach is to go to ANCESTRY.COM to do your searches. Their index is (supposedly) the one supplied by familysearch, and DOES allow corrections. The corrections even show up in the index!

    Just as an illustration of the difficulties with the familysearch index:

    My grandfather lived his entire adult life in the same house, which makes him relatively easy to find. I found him in the images of the census sheets before the index was complete. When Ancestry published the index, a search for "Rethard" did not show him at all. Searching for his neighbors allowed me to find him by checking "other people on page." He was listed at "Ruthars." After I entered the correction for him (and the rest of the family), he showed up properly in the index. "Ruthars" does not show up in the index on familysearch, nor does "Rethard," at least for my grandfather. Other members of my family are also missing from the index, including my greatgrandmother, who lived across the street from my grandfather. Ancestry, however, shows her, and the son who was living with her.

    As a member of the church, a genealogist, and a greatly experienced software designer, I urge the familysearch staff to sit back, take a deep breath and fix this problem before it gets worse. All you need to do is talk with your counterparts at Ancestry...
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  • Those who are directly involved with the programing and making software for the projects need to network with those who also program to resolve these issues. So far there is much ado about the 'program', 'programming', 'errors', and any other derivation, but not to a resolution. The engineers/ programmers need to work with and as united teams rather than divisions and use the systems which the family history consultants currently use to network for solutions. The idea is simply to flag other programers inside thier groups, and then fruther out to other teams, and then to the world of others outside the church's domain. It might surprize you all how many others in the world are just as interested in making a solution that will work IF you would allow for other programmers to show and share the way. If you would open the door and invite others to help assist like WIKI has done, then the resolutions can be made possible, doable, and readilbly available.
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  • I’m frustrated
    So far all you have said is there is no way to correct a mistake in the records. You will be trying to solve this problem. 3 individuals check these records over. Bull Honkey otherwise they would not have made a mistake on my birth year. It shows that when I got married I was in my 80's and married a man 21 yrs. old. I got married in CA. June 7, 1969. I am wondering about the accuracy of all of your records.
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  • I’m Flabbergasted
    Just found an ancester????? has been combined 97 times, am now waiting for a round 100 then I can go out and celebtate. I have also found that someone has gone back to 0312 on my line, with some of the temple work done; whoopee or should that be "Stone the flippin' crows?". (Ye olde English expession.)
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  • First, thank you for Family Search; I have extended two lines back hundreds of years since I started two weeks ago.

    Second, these thoughts were written a year ago, could you please update them, if, as I hope, there has been some progress?
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  • If you can't figure out how to let users correct census record indexing errors, fire your programmers and hire the ancestry.com programmers. Their database allows for users to make corrections (spelling variation) without destroying the original spelling of a name. In the 1940 Census in Salt Lake City UT, Louis and Ada Gillett Love are not listed. They are incorrectly listed as Lane vice Love. When I index, I look for relatives on the same or previous pages or hard to read characters compared to other similar characters on the same page. Also, if indexers are unsure of the spelling, they should open up ancestry.com and search for the same people (or use wildcards) in previous census years. In this case, the supplementary information at the bottom of the census record CLEARLY shows the spelling as LOVE. The CORRECT name is LOUIS OSTLER LOVE and ADA LOVE and their two children have the last name of LOVE.
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  • One change I have thought about for a long time that would be nice, would be able to change the text color on a person name in the family tree. This would allow the ablity at a quick glance to see ones direct line. For example when one is looking at a list of children and trying to decide which one is your grandparent. If a choice of colors could be picked from, then one could have different colors for different family lines.

    Lane Fillingim
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  • I would encourage corrections to published records. I know there was a big push to get the 1940 census out but I had to go to ancestry.com to find my grandfather.

    The overwriting on the census led to the errors, I'm sure, but I would like to correct the last name so anyone looking for it can find it! Please, please move this up on the wish list!
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  • I’m frustrated
    Why don't you just add a message board where people can start listing errors that will need to be corrected. It would have fields for the salient information on the error to allow it to be located at a future time, and a note on why the correction should be made, like a citation of a correct resource or how the name is a nickname for someone, etc. Then, future volunteers can look at an "error board" message, locate the error and make a correction note. Having ANY place to report errors so they will not be ignored will be a great asset. If it was searchable, then it would also mean that a person can be located with their correct name spelling and linked to the index entry that contains the error.

    I too have worked with computers and programs and databases for a long time. If the problem is defined properly and the real problem identified, then a fix is simple and elegant.

    Help the people that are interested enough to find errors and provide a repository for these error notifications so in the future they can be fixed and for now, correct information can be searched even if in another area.

    Keep up the good work!
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  • I’m frustrated
    One more frustrated user. It is now almost the end of 2012. Any movement on making corrections or is it forever "vaporware?" As with many users, I can document the correct information. Also, Ancestry.com has an excellent mechanism to show suggested corrections. Hire them--but don't buy them out and destroy their process. Thank you.
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  • I’m EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED!
    I'm VERY DISAPPOINTED in the lack of any way to correct faulty index files.
    This is the result of a very poor design.

    Frankly, I'm just to pissed to say anything else!
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  • I’m frustrated
    Ola, ja tinha algum tempo o registro de casamento do meu trisavô

    JAN JAROSINSKI

    recentemente encontrei um erro de quem indexou este registro, o sobrenome jarosinski que tb pode ser transcrito como IAROSINSKI,Foi transcrito como TEROSINSKI

    João Terosinski

    Brazil, Civil Registration, 1870-2012

    birth: 1873
    other: 30 Nov 1907 03a Circunscrição,​ Rio de Janeiro,​ Brazil

    parents: Miguel Terosinski,​ Margarida Terosinski
    spouse: Josepha Noruscha

    Por favor,gostariad e acertar este erro de transcrição,veja por favor o link do registro e note que não existe T nenhum no começo do nome...

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1...

    REGISTRO NUMERO 333,CONTINUA NA PÁGINA SEGUINTE.

    A letra t do escrivão nada tem com o sobrenome.

    E VEJA NA ASSINATURA CLARA DO MEU TRISAVÔ.

    JOAO JAROSINSKI...
    Como faço para concertar isso?
    Desde ja obrigada
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  • I’m frustrated
    Household Gender Age Birthplace
    self Alfred Negley M 50 West Virginia, United States
    wife Mary Negley F 38 West Virginia, United States
    wife William Negley F 38 West Virginia, United States

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1...

    See anything wrong here? It looks to me like the indexer didn't complete the line for the "son" William Negley "M" "21" WV.

    This type of mistake should be corrected.
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  • I’m frustrated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I agree with the majority of the people here. There should be a way to correct errors. I've done indexing and I know sometimes it's hard to read some of the handwriting. My dad's race is wrong on your record page. On the 1940 census it clearly indicates "W" for him. His neighbors before and after are "Neg". The indexers list his race as Negro. This is carelessness on the part of both indexers for this record. It's very frustrating that there is no way to correct this and other errors I've found. I can correct on ancestry.com. There should be a way to do this on familysearch.org. There is no acceptable reason for this inability. I and others sincerely hope this ability is added soon to your records. Records should be as correct as possible.
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  • I would think a simply button next to each surname going to a link that would allow the user to correct the spelling of a name would be enough. No major reprogramming, just adding a link that would let the user key in the correction and put in their relationship to the family. My grandfathers name is spelled incorrectly and it fustrates me that I cannot correct it. It is the data operators error as it is spelled correctly on the census record. If I had a link next to his name it could put a note in that would explain to future searches the error. In the search mode, the program could be changed to check these notes as well as the entries so that all records would be called up, even the ones misspelled.
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  • I’m frustrated
    It is clear that there is a need for some process to submit corrections to indexes (e.g. 1940 census). Family Search should have the ability to develop this process. It is very frustrating not to be able to make transcription corrections, especially when it involves the name of your ancestor! Despite the best efforts of indexers and arbitrators, mistakes are made. I 'm sure you've heard many times over that Ancestry.com offers this capability. Why can't Family Search?
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  • I’m thankful and hopeful
    To all the people who have made these resources available .. THANK YOU!

    For those people who are frustrated you could also contribute yourselves by getting involved in the indexing project.

    To Robert :
    The Hague City archives has a site function and structure that allows users to note corrections and additions in a "comment" sort of way - these comments are then also searchable, as far as I can see. Example here :

    http://195.242.171.17/hga/virtuelestu...

    Once again, Thank you and best wishes
    Leanne, in The Hague, The Netherlands
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  • I’m frustrated
    Some arbitrators are adding corrections for correction's sake. I does get frustrating to not be able to send a comment to a particular arbitrator' who's obvious corrections to a correctly indexed line in a batch disregard most of the particularities of a precise project (such as not entering the sexe of a line even when the name is a female name). Why not permit a short comment when the indexor asks for feedback when revising his batch?
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