It’s not fair. My client, a professional writer, was looking forward to uncovering the mystery of her racial controversary. Her initial research verified that her Irish born ancestors was a mulatto, so were his children. She hired a3Genealogy to get to the root of this. Ouch! We have to tell her, that the index for her 1870 family, the premise of her story, was incorrectly “transcribed” by the indexer.
The Errors: The census indexer who read page 1, mistakenly determined the “W” as “M” under the “Race” column. It could happen! Have you seen the handwriting on those census records?
Most would ask why would the last child be white. In this case, it is because, that child was listed on the top of the next census page. Perhaps a new indexer was assigned or enough time lapsed to forget the previous page. Not sure, but these types of indexing errors are not rare.
What Is The Researcher To Do
As Ancestry.com is neither the author nor the compiler of the data in its indexes, we cannot assume responsibility for the accuracy of this information. Please exercise caution when judging the accuracy of data in the U.S. Public Records Index. Some addresses and telephone numbers are invalid and birthdates may be inaccurate as well.This “Important Note” should be applied to all indexes, encouraging researchers to go to the original source, or at least obtain authentic unedited clear copies. Be sure to review any available image to assess quality of the source image or errors inadvertently made.
Correcting Index Errors
Ancestry.com’s online error reporting system, allows the user to submit a correction in two basic ways. See the Help information on the Ancestry.com website:
One is from the record summary page, which shows the indexed information plus a thumbnail image of the record; the other is from the census record image itself (if applicable; some records like the Social Security Death Index don’t have images). Regardless of where you add information from, we keep the original indexed information and add updates as alternate information. This means that if an update is incorrect, the original information is not lost.For More Information
The ancestry.com Census Indexes and Finding Aids article gives a bit of the history of the accuracy of indexing.
Accurate, accessible answers