Posted by on December 7, 2007 in Ancestry.com Site, Content

Hi, my name is Chris Lydiksen and I’m the product manager responsible for US and Canada content. By way of introduction, I’ve been with the company for about four years, all of that time focused on content. I work closely with several of the professional genealogists on staff here at Ancestry.com. I’m a history buff and thoroughly enjoy the thrill of the hunt for my ancestors, as well as the excitement I feel when I find historical content that enriches my understanding of their lives and times.

With about 25,000 unique databases, roughly 150 million images and more than 5 billion names, I’m sure you can imagine the many “opportunities” we have to make mistakes! I’d like to investigate one of these here in this post that some of you more advanced users have probably noticed in the course of your research.

Microfilm ReelSpecifically, I’d like to know where you have noticed images missing in comparison to what is found on the source microfilm. I’m referring to those situations where the images are just plain not there, you can’t get to them via search and can’t drill down to them in the browse (I’m not referring to situations where the image is blurry, black, incorrect or just doesn’t load – that’s for another discussion).

Would you find it helpful if, in addition to the browse already provided on Ancestry.com, you could browse through the images sequentially, just as if you were scrolling through the original reel of microfilm?

I look forward to hearing from you, and I hope you find this type of discussion useful!

46 Comments

Christy Fillerup 

In response to your question “Would you find it helpful if, in addition to the browse already provided n Ancestry.com you could browse through the images sequentially, just as if you were scrolling though the original reel of microfilm?” I would sound a hearty YES! There is much information that can be gleaned simply from the order of the original information. It does beg the question, however, how is the current browse option ordered?

December 7, 2007 at 3:39 pm
Alice Gedge 

Yes, I too would love to browse. But would it be possible to have an image with less resolution to browse with so it wouldn’t take so long to load. Perhaps larger than a thumbnail so you could get an idea what was there.

December 8, 2007 at 5:55 am
LInda Koehler 

I can think of instances where as a simple research technique, scrolling as if looking at the original microfilm would be useful. But at the moment, I would be interested in using such a scrolling technique as a method to get around errors in the imaging/labeling done by Ancestry without having to wait for corrections to be made.

The obvious huge resource where it would be natural to have a browse that works as if I were scrolling through the microfilm is the census. Right now, I have to use HeritageQuestOnline when I need to browse this way.

In at least one instance, it is impossible for me to drill down to info I know is there in the census due to an error that I have reported to Ancestry several times over a period of years, but which is still not corrected.

I have ancestors living in Center Twp, Mercer County, Ohio in the 1860 census. They show up in the index, the “View Record” preview pops up and shows the correct families, but when you click on the link to view the image, you are taken to Lincoln Twp in Morrow County, Ohio. No Center Twp, even if you browse through the whole of Lincoln. If I use the browse feature to follow Ohio > Mercer County > Center Twp, I am still taken to Lincoln Twp once I click on the Center Twp link. Since the towns are all discretely accessed, I can’t start at one of the other towns in Mercer County and continue browsing images sequentially into Center Township the way I did on microfilm years ago when I was originally looking at these families.

I have other instances that are not quite the same – in the 1800 census for the town of Southeast in Dutchess County, NY, Ancestry will only allow you to go up to p.178 of the Southeast town enumeration; however, there are 4 additional names on page 179. If you could continue scrolling through the “microfilm”, a thorough researcher would find those names (which aren’t indexed either).

In the 1810 census for Dutchess County, NY, Ancestry.com mistakenly divides the town of Phillips into 2 separate towns when it is really only one town; “Phillipstown” includes the first 3 pages of the census listing, and “Phillips” includes the next 10 pages. I can see where someone who is not familiar with the area has to assume that the census-taker knows what he is doing in labeling the pages, and thinks these are 2 discrete areas – but if you could continue looking forward and back through the images online as you would with microfilm, you could decide for yourself if these 13 pages belonged together.

There is a more difficult problem with the 1820 census. Ancestry.com assigned all or part of 2 Dutchess County towns to the incorrect county, which makes them impossible to find if you are just browsing the census. Stanford is not listed at all with the other Dutchess County towns, but instead is found in its entirety under Sullivan County — it has never been part of Sullivan County. The town of Washington has been split between Dutchess and Sullivan Counties, with the beginning of the town census (p.140-145) listed with Sullivan County, and the last 3 pages (p.146-148) listed with Dutchess County. There is no way to tell, in looking at the Dutchess pages for Washington, that some of them are “missing”. If you are searching for names via the Ancestry index, names do link correctly to the image of the page, but they will be identified with the wrong county. The researcher must carefully examine all of the original page itself for labeling. But in these early schedules, where the entire form is handwritten, you can sometimes miss that labeling.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond and for looking at ways for us to better access the wonderful content you have.

Linda

December 8, 2007 at 8:43 am
judi Wiltjer 

YES!, browsing would be a great thing to have an option for. I find that i sometimes locate information’accidently’ by looking at a census page, like relatives that lived next door to each other when they were still in school and not married yet. or second cousins, or whatever. oddly enough, if i search for the information under the appropriate person, it does not show up automatically. sometimes it is because the names have been misspelled, or misinterpreted. THANKS!

December 8, 2007 at 3:11 pm
Ron Chard 

First I would like to defend those who do the indexing of the databases, especially many of the older records that images are of very poor quality. In addition, one doing indexing can only enter into the database what is written, and in some cases it is apparent the written text maybe in error. But it is the indexers responsibility to enter data as written. Next, deciphering old handwriting and/or poor penmanship adds to the problem for the indexer. As one who has been involved in indexing for another website’s databases ….my hats off to those doing indexing for Ancestry and the other’s providing similar genealogy data.

As for providing access to “browse through the images sequentially” ….I see this as another valuable tool for us to search for our ancestors. Hopefully if these types of images are made available, Ancestry will give us access to these images even before they have been indexed ….maybe years in advance of records being indexed and put online. I look forward to seeing this new tool being added.

December 9, 2007 at 6:31 am
Joan Gipson-Fredin 

In answer to your question, YES! I would love to be able to browse page by page. We used to be able to do that, and it was an extremely valuable way to find relatives whose names at some point had been mis-recorded.
I am especially interested in browsing the 1870 census. So many of my relatives can be found in 1860 and 1880 who cannot be found in 1870 that I wonder if the 1870 census has been tagged correctly for searches. Thanks for asking!

December 9, 2007 at 12:14 pm
Sherri Feller 

I agree that being able to scroll through images the same as scrolling through microfilm would be very useful.
Chris wrote “…the browse functionality being discussed would be fairly simple to implement…” My concern is that while programmers are spending time on this they would not be spending time on fixing something that is frustrating customers.

December 9, 2007 at 8:34 pm
Anna O. Jackson 

Being able to browse was the key to finding my grandmother’s death certificate. A very kind researcher browsed the microfilm and found it right next to her infant son’s. The transcriber had made a terrible job of interpreting her name; therefore, a search on her correct name (or soundex) was impossible.

December 9, 2007 at 10:37 pm
Wanda McDonough 

Yes, this would be an advantage for looking up census records as going to the library and attempting to view very old micro film is nearly impossible now the images are so damaged. It is a shame that Ancestry did not do a better job when they first photo copied the film. Many pages are askew, and no attempt has ever been made to clear up the images. With todays technology surely someone could clear up the darker or very light images.
I do have to agree with many postings here (which you want to address later, AS always) Fix the problems we have been complaining about for 10 years!

December 10, 2007 at 11:31 pm
Chris Lydiksen 

Hello everybody. Thanks for your feedback. I am already aware of most of the concerns that have been raised here pertaining to errors on the site, and I plan to dig into this with you soon in more detail. My wife had our third child Monday, so I’m spread a bit thin at the moment. I’ll chime in again before the end of the year. Thanks, Chris

December 12, 2007 at 10:12 am
M.C. Moran 

“I’d like to know where you have noticed images missing in comparison to what is found on the source microfilm.”

Here’s a specific instance that I really wish you would fix:

Ontario French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967, C, Cockery (should be Corkery, for St. Michael’s, Corkery, Carleton Co.). This parish registry runs from 1837 to 1968, but ancestry.com only has two images (the first two pages of a registry that runs for hundreds of pages).

Thank you.

December 13, 2007 at 9:03 am
J. Longley 

Missing microfilm images.

1) Tioga County, PA WWI Draft Registration Cards for surnames beginning with letters K through Z. These are indexed (get positive search results) but links lead nowhere. Cannot browse to them because each Initial Letter is a separate file. Reported by me more than a year ago and by others before that.

2) 1840 US Census for Orient Gore, Aroostook Co, ME. “Gore,” BTW, is misspelt on the ‘browse’ page. The head of household page is missing on site, but is on the National Archives microfilm. It is indexed (yields correct search results), but the page links go to another Town’s enumeration. Cannot browse to the head of household page. Reported more than a year ago.

December 18, 2007 at 11:27 am
Loretta Freidel-Wilson 

it would be helpful to have a “help” area when a novice like me makes a mistake and can not remove it from the records. I goofed so how do we make a correction?

January 11, 2008 at 6:23 pm
Herb Depke 

Database error. I have been directed by customer service to this blog. The database “Danville, Virginia Directories, 1888-93″ is, at least in part, for Danville, ILLINOIS, my birthplace. Enter surname DEPKE. Seven hits result, all are my ancestors, all Danville, ILLINOIS [1889]. This is true for every person I have searched for in that database. Thank you. Herb Depke

January 11, 2008 at 6:45 pm
Donna Loper 

I love the link to the global imaging system and hybrid earth images. What would be VERY cool is if there is anyway to link the record location to the digital images today. I know, platt numbers and long/lat numbers are different animals – even over time – but, if you have geographic specialists in your house, maybe they could come up with a way to help us neophites who can’t figure out how to find the homestead ranch from the land records, and then the sale of the property over time. You see, when the counties (and states) changed the names of some locations, I with I could put a pin head on the ranch, and then compare that to the land/property records over time to see if they are exactly the same square of land. Does your team have any ideas to help us in this area?

January 12, 2008 at 11:28 pm
M.C. Moran 

Another from the Drouin collection (it’s absolutely wonderful to have online access to this resource, but please do fix the omissions!):

Ontario French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection, 1747-1967)>E>Eganville.

Only two pages (two images) uploaded from a parish register that runs from 1897-1920.

January 14, 2008 at 11:11 am
M.C. Moran 

Another from the Drouin collection:

Ontario French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection, 1747-1967)>D>Douglas>1878-1908.

Only two images uploaded for this parish registry.

Also, one thing I’ve noticed from visiting the message boards at ancestry.ca: many people searching for Irish ancestors in the Ottawa Valley area don’t seem to realize they should be looking at the Drouin collection’s “Ontario French Catholic” parish registers. You describe the database as including “French Catholic parish records from Ontario, Acadia, and the U.S.” As a description, this is true enough, but incomplete: in addition to French, many of these parish registers include key records (baptismal, marriage, burial) for people of German and Polish and Irish ancestry. I wonder if you might mention this in your description of the database?

January 15, 2008 at 7:37 am
Lukas 

The census records give reference numbers to information on other census records such as the Agricultural census and the Special census of 1880. I would love to see the other census records added. I would be glad to help in the indexing process if needed.

Thanks
Lukas

January 16, 2008 at 10:08 am
Sharyn Hay 

Congratulations on your new baby. Now that he/she is about 5 weeks old you are probably a bit sleep deprived but I know you want to continue to do your job well.

Absolutely, YES. Sometimes it is really necessary to browse the images.

I also need to use the Drouin Collection often and would appreciate attention to making it available in a more complete manner. The sections with only a few pages are essentially useless right now.

One thing I really, really need is more Canadian census records – 1861, 1871, and 1891. By now I’m sure you know that major errors were made in Ancestry’s posting of the 1851 census. Many of the pages are actually for 1861 and that database has to be useed with caution and careful checking of the headers. Do you need us to post to this blog when we find those errors? Or, were those errors made at the Canadian Archives?

Keep up the good work,
Sharyn Hay

January 17, 2008 at 8:46 am
Frances Murphy 

Could you alphbetize the listing of databases. It is tedious to go through the whole list to find, for example, Alabama marriages to 1850. Or alphabetize within alphabetized state and provincial listings.

January 17, 2008 at 8:59 pm
Barbara Murphy 

My biggest gripe, and this is not a biggy is that it would be so much easier if I didn’t have to go through an entire census data that could have been listed on the first page rather than the twentiest page. It gets so old and after about ten pages, I just quit. I’m sure it’s probably there but why does it have to be so difficult to find one person with one off-beat name in one town in one state during a very specific area of time without going through the world to find what should have been right under my typed in information.

January 19, 2008 at 5:41 pm
Alan Pereira 

My wife and I have been genealogists for 30+ years, taking over from my father-in-law who started this some 40+ years ago. I have been using Family Tree Maker in it’s various versions up to and including 2005. My wife still retains her own versions of the Family Trees as FTM has yet to provide a Tree that matches her criteria. Basically she produces an All-in-One family Tree that would be generated by initially selecting descendants of key paternal or maternal parents down a specific number of generations. She then tailors the tree (like you can of the descendant tree in 2005) to fit the page. If this could be achieved in FTM it could produce a detailed picture of #generations as an AiO tree without it drifting into family relationships that are not required for that tree.
Incidentally, up to 2005 I think the FTM group had their development right. they offered best in class graphics for Family Trees. I recently purchased 2008 and was bitterly dissapointed in that the Best in Class functionality has been dropped – it looks like a half baked version of other Family Tree productions – worse still, it’s memory hungry and produces a very poor replica of the PDF output of the 2005 product.
Can you please get back on track!

January 23, 2008 at 6:16 am
R A Armstrong 

1820 U.S. Census
TENNESSEE , WILLIAMSON, FRANKLIN
Series: M33 Roll: 125 Page: 131

The above citation is from Genealogy.com’s census records. I have sent 2 previous messages to Ancestry.com to tell you that this page (and the following one) are entirely missing from Ancestry.com’s census images. It would be most helpful if I didn’t have to jump around to other sites to get my information, especially when I pay for it.
Thank you

January 24, 2008 at 5:36 pm
Phillip Norman 

I’ve been waiting for over a year and have reported the missing page, no film available problem for over a year, for one documnet, and still it has not been fixed. So, I would say NO to the browser, fix the problems, then add your browser upgrades as existing errors are only going to irritate a new browser function.

January 29, 2008 at 4:14 pm
Tina Brown 

Let me apologize in advance for putting this comment in a BLOG with a different topic, but it’s my first time here, and I can’t seem to figure out where it would belong. Since it’s about content, I guess Chris is the correct person to tell.

I have been a subscriber since 2003, and I live in the Detroit, Wayne Co., MI area. Since Wayne, County, MI must be the absolute worst county in the country in which to try to obtain local records, I keep wishing and hoping that you will get more information for my local area. The ideal would be vital records and back issues of the Detroit newspapers. Is there any chance of something like that happening?

February 4, 2008 at 11:01 pm
M.C. Moran 

Another from the Drouin Collection:

Ontario French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967 > O > Ottawa; Ottawa (St-Patrice); Sépultures > 1928-1943.

This is supposed to be a register of (or at least an index to) burials at St Patrick’s in Ottawa. However, it is actually a register of marriages, and is the same thing as:

Ontario French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967 > O > Ottawa; Ottawa (St-Patrice); Mariages seulement > 1928-1943

So it looks like the marriage records for 1928-1943 were uploaded twice and the burial records not uploaded at all.

I realize the Drouin Collection is a huge database, and some errors and omissions are probably inevitable. However, I have to agree with those who are urging you to fix existing problems rather than upgrade the browser.

And please do fix:

Ontario French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967 > C > Cockery > 1837-1968

Thank you!

February 8, 2008 at 11:01 am
Susan C. Lafferty 

I’m not sure if this is the appropriate site for this concern/comment or not, if not maybe you can pass it along. I was recently checking out one of my families on your family tree site. I have been a genealogist for over 30 years, and it is disheartening to see the incorrect data people send. It is obvious they never bother to find if it’s correct or not. Even cities are put in wrong counties or states.

I am a current member and use your site regularly for research from historical records, etc. it has been a source of good information many times, but the family tree sites are a disaster that pass on much bad information to those that know no better, or are unable to search out the facts. People that submit information should be required to list reliable sources of information.

February 23, 2008 at 2:13 pm
Gerald Britton 

In the June 2007 edition of the Ancestry Monthly Update, I saw the following announcement:

Coming Soon to Ancestry.ca: Canadian Passenger Lists

Now, I don’t know what was meant by “soon” but almost nine months have passed since the announcement. Perhaps an update to that announcement is in order?

February 28, 2008 at 9:46 am
Marion Adam 

Today I found that the following sets of images appear to be missing:

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 > Pennsylvania > Philadelphia City > 16 > Draft Cards A, B, and C

Random checks returned no images.

March 16, 2008 at 7:25 pm
Cynthia Moore 

I have found spelling errors in 1900,1910,1920,1930 for Thomas and Gidley family. It appears you have to be a member to correct them- is this true?

March 31, 2008 at 8:46 am
james s. keene(1805_- 

my grandfather,told me his grandfather shot a man and lefthim on the fence till ”morning when he called the sherrif this was at ”keenes crossing ” any hope of the truth?

March 31, 2008 at 4:27 pm
North Adams Public Library 

We reviewed a personal subscription to Ancestry.com and then decided to subscribe to the library edition for use in our public library. We are very disappointed that so much that is available in the personal edition is not part of the library edition, particularly obituary collection, Historical Newspaper collection, and PERSI. Why are these not included, and is there any way we can acquire them?

Katharine

April 1, 2008 at 11:55 am
s. 

http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~texascantrells/sylvesterfam.html

It was bad enough to have ancestry.com taking over and using teasers and spoof accouts all leading to ancestry.com, BUT now… you have your name at the top, bottom and … MIDDLE… of my page.

I believe you are blocking my pages from public searches.

I am considering removing all my family history pages from your greedy hands. If everyone one does the same, ancestry.com will starve out. I enjoyed the old free rootsweb!!!

April 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm
CJR 

Yes, please provide for the option of browsing images sequentially. If families stayed in one parish for any length of time, all of a family’s events are recorded in that parish record: there’s potential to find more relatives if one can browse page by page. And, in the event a name was mis-indexed there’s a chance it’ll be found through browsing.

April 20, 2008 at 2:09 pm
Elizabeth Stokes 

I am trying to correct error in 1860 census. I cannot find a way to do this. The Marion County Tennessee 1860 census is marked Madison County, so you cannot find people who lived in Marion Country when you search! I sent a correct in about a year ago, and this is not yet corrected.

April 22, 2008 at 9:08 am
Glenda Ryans 

Help, I can’t read the original images of the census records anymore, I am still working on FTM 16…for some reason the image reader is malfunctioning….I have been in touch with Ancestry and they sent me a 4 page letter telling me how to uninstall it, and then to reinstall it….yeah, right…I am clueless about all the techy jargon. I miss the days when Ancestry.com was usable….looking to cancel, but I don’t want to…Is there somewhere I can refresh it, or re-download it again….glenda

April 24, 2008 at 8:04 pm
Tim Fisher 

ALL WWI draft card “W”s for Draft Board 1, Berks County, PA have a missing image. Many draft card Draft Board 3 F’s have a blank image. There are many other missing draft card images for Berks County. I have reported numerous instances but then just gave up, as it is obvious that they won’t be corrected. I am frustrated that information I pay every month to access hasn’t ever been available to me.

April 25, 2008 at 8:28 am
John 

It seams that Colorado vital records are sparse. Some censuses or present but i have much family that were born, lived and died there but there is no reference to them when i search this site. When i’ve traveled to the individual counties the records exist but not on here for some reason. I hope your working to obtain these vital records as i’m sure i can find my long lost grandfather this way. I’m just waiting patiently.

Thank You

May 7, 2008 at 12:18 am
Theresa Fernstrom 

That sounds to me like a worthwhile improvement. I have to concur with Linda Koehler on errors brought to your attention which either are not corrected or are after an inordinate amount of time. Today I was looking at the 1930 census for NY (Queens) and came across a gross error. Gross because on the original image it is very clear and understandable, yet two families have been mixed up together … the McGaw family and the Welsh family. The 12 year old daughter Janet McGaw is listed as the wife of the 60 year old Patrick Welsh who is the family listed right after the McGaw family and on your typewritten copy she is listed as the “father” and he, Patrick is listed as the “mother”. There is no way to contact you via email as there used to be … why is there not the ability to type this message to you when I click on “Having trouble viewing this image.” All it does is have a choice of three things for the subject and then no way to comment on what is wrong. Perhaps I am missing something there??!! I would appreciate your feedback on this matter.
Thank you,
Theresa Fernstrom

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May 19, 2008 at 10:23 pm
Ronald Potter 

I am confused by the Calif. Marriage & Divorce records. I searched for Harold L. Kottong who I knew had married in Calif. and find what appear to be duplicate entries for the marriage. Search for Harold L. Kottong’s 12/17/1966 wedding and find two records one with Margaret A. Tindell and one with Margaret A. Graham. Is it possible Margaret A. is double listed with both her maiden name and a previous married name? How could one tell which is which?

Thanks for any help,
Ron Potter

June 3, 2008 at 3:13 pm
Bob Scott 

I am astounded by the lack of quality control at times at Ancestry. Other than fixing bad transcriptions (and I understand how bad handwriting is in censuses), there doesn’t seem to be any way to fix problems or any real place to complain that they aren’t fixed.

The simplest is records that don’t link to the record they are supposed to. Other the last two years, I have repeatedly asked to have two records in the WWI draft registration fixed. Either find the record the name is supposed to link to or provide a statement that the original is not available.

There also needs to be some way to correct information such as misspelled county and township names. Or towns that have been linked to the wrong county. For example, the 1830 census search shows Louisville as being in Hopkins County, Ky., not in Jefferson, which is correct. I would think this could be programmed fairly easily.

More difficult is the gaffe in indexing in the 1850 census that involves Indiana. Whoever transcribed much of Indiana did not understand that IA was the abbreviation for Indiana at that time. Instead, the transcriptions show this as Iowa, an abbreviation that came into use only after Zip Codes were implemented. The result is that if you search Indiana for individuals born in Iowa for 1850, the search says there were 116,283.

Then in the 1860s, there’s a lesser problem, but still with thousands of names involved with the birthplace “Ken” being shown as Kentucky and “Ind” and “Inda” coming up as India instead of Indiana.

As to misreadings, the 1820 census for Switzerland County incorrectly lists Collon township, when it should be Cotton.

Another very bad error is in the Illinois Public Land records. The acreage listed for all purchasers has too many zeros. People are listed as purchasing 160,000, 8,000 and 4,000 acres, which it should be 160, 80 and 40 acres (which can be double checked against the government land office record site)

there should also be consistency in the search process as to whether the “Mc” names have a space between the Mc and the rest of the name. In some cases, it’s necessary to put McKay, for example. In others, only Mc Kay, will work.

June 6, 2008 at 9:23 pm
njitaliana 

I am so lost. What happened to the section where I can see who I invited to my tree? How do I invite someone to my tree?? HELP.

July 3, 2008 at 9:19 am
DANNY 

LOOKING FOR ROLL NUMBERS

August 21, 2008 at 11:09 am
Chris Lydiksen 

Please read subsequent posts and comments for answers and more info on several topics contained on this page. It might also be helpful to use the blog search in the top find answers.

September 1, 2008 at 10:23 pm