Posted by on 11 January 2012 in General, Record Collections

AUTHORED BY RUSSELL JAMES

Our NEW London, England, Electoral Registers, 1835-1965, take you back through the history of Britain and London’s democratic system. More than that, they let you trace your ancestors’ movements between census years and well into the 20th century, giving you far greater precision in your timeline of their lives.

Electoral registers listed everybody in a particular area who had the right to vote. They were started in 1832 and taken just about every year from then on.

At first, they only included middle-class men, as these were the only people who could vote. However, as more and people were allowed to take part in elections they gradually became comprehensive lists of local adults and by 1928 everyone over the age of 21 was registered.

Electoral registers reveal each person’s name and address. In early records, you might also find details of how they met the voting criteria, such as the size of their property, whether they owned or rented it, and even their occupation.

Because these records were compiled annually they enable you pinpoint any changes to a precise year. For example, you might know that one ancestor moved house between 1871 and 1881. That’s quite a long period of time in comparaison to these days when we might move three or four times in a decade – perhaps more! By following that person through the registers, you can see exactly when their address changed.

The first and last years when a relative appears in the registers are also crucial. Before 1969 each person was added when they reached 21 meaning that you can effectively work out their birth year.  And they were usually listed right up to their death, so a sudden disappearance might suggest they emigrated or passed away that year.

Our new addition, the London Electoral Registers, 1835–1965, is a particularly extensive collection, including more than 139 million records from all over London. Just click here to start searching the records.

56 Comments

Ian 

You might think that no women would be listed before universal suffrage gave them the right to vote in 1928, but this isn’t true. Some of the rolls are lists of lodgers that were registered to vote. Although these lodgers are all men, it’s common for the landlord that they’re paying rent to to be a woman (who was ineligible to vote). These landlords are listed in a separate column.

I’ve found one of my female ancestors included in 1908, as the landlord to her son.

11 January 2012 at 11:30 am
11 January 2012 at 11:35 am
John Wynne 

I’m having problems viewing the images of this new database.

I have tried all the suggestions that Ancestry Support’s given me, but the new database (London, England, Electoral Registers, 1835-1965) is still crashing IE9 when I try to view images.

I have W7 installed.

I re-booted after this first happened this morning, and W7 automatically installed a bunch of updates that were released overnight.

The images are OK with Firefox 9.0, but I don’t want to use that browser.

IE9 has worked very well for me on Ancestry, and every other site I view, and still does (except for these images). I successfully looked at several Ancestry census images this morning, before I tried the new database.

The coincidence that this database is new, makes me suspect that it as a flaw which causes IE9 to crash.

Has anyone else with IE9 tried viewing images from the London, England, Electoral Registers, 1835-1965 database?

11 January 2012 at 12:10 pm
John Baldwin 

Yes – I have the same problem on IE9 with W7 – the image doesn’t load, then IE9 tries to continually reload it, whilst showing a “problem caused me to stop working” type message.

I have sent an email to ancestry support with no response.

11 January 2012 at 12:30 pm
John Henley 

I fear that there is extensive mis-location of these records. Searching, for example, for one of my interests,
SECKER, and a variant, SEEKER, I found
1] Isacc Onslow SECKER is mis-transcribed as ASEEKER [and this from a printed record!]
2] He is oplaced in the Parliamentary Division of St.Botolph, desopite the record clearly indicating Staines. That particular set of St.Botolph has records from Staines, Bedfont, Kings Cross, etc. Only the first couple of pages relate to St.Botolph.
Regards
John Henley

11 January 2012 at 12:31 pm
John Baldwin 

I have just tried switching to standard viewer and this does work.

11 January 2012 at 12:35 pm
Ron Lankshear 

That is wonderful Annabel…. I’m finding out our neighbours first names – as a kid they were Mr and Mrs….
yes John seems to have correct link

11 January 2012 at 12:39 pm
Mike Bosworth 

You have invited us all to search the London Electoral Registers but when I click on “click here” to start searching I get a blank ‘blog’ page. So I tried the drop-down menu but the register does not appear there. Furthermore I was not been able to upload media (photos) yesterday and my media are very slow to appear on screen today. What’s going on, Ancestry? Do you have server problems?

11 January 2012 at 12:59 pm
Mike Bosworth 

I should perhaps add that I am browsing with IE8 on a WinXP SP3 platform.

11 January 2012 at 1:03 pm
Marie 

I also have problem viewing these records. I have IE9 also. I can view anything but these records.

11 January 2012 at 1:10 pm
Carol Sweetland 

After the fiasco with the 1911 census, it seems there are similar problems with this. In the 1877 roll for Felthamthe name section is a combination of names, addresses and gobbledegook, a computer error or transcribers that can’t read very clear type written pages. eg Brand, William Henderson transcribed as William Wh Vok Henderson; Bowhay, Tom Anderson transcribed as Tom Anderson Itowh.
I am seriously thinking of not renewing my subscription if the only way to get a good search is to search page by page.

11 January 2012 at 2:33 pm
Mark Nicholls 

The search interface appears to be on the Ancestry.com website and not the Ancestry.co.uk one. This means that people with only .co.uk are asked to join Ancestry.com or take out a 14 day free trial. Can the search interface be put onto Ancestry.co.uk please?

11 January 2012 at 2:48 pm
John Wynne 

I’ve normally been very impressed with the transcriptions on Ancestry, but I must say that these look like machine-read OCR, without a human eye ever having checked them. There’s a much, much higher rate of mistranscription, and many of them don’t resemble anything close to a name.

11 January 2012 at 3:15 pm
John Wynne 

It’s a bit disappointing that you can’t enter the street name but, if you the street name in the Keyword box, you can at least find out which parts of London had streets with that name.

11 January 2012 at 3:16 pm
FTMFAMILY481 

Same show-stopper- as others, I can’t view images (Win7 + IE9).
Also search panel seems to be flakey – Hackney is listed as a Borough when I obly search for forename and surname. But add Hackney to the Borough search field and the result is not record found.
Did anyone test this new application or are we all testing it for you? If the latter, I hope for a better resolution time than the year or two that I’ve seen for other problems.

11 January 2012 at 4:42 pm
Ted Jones 

Is this only available on Premium or higher? I did a successful search, revealing several hits, but when clicking on ‘view record’ I’m taken to a page which tells me I need Premium Membership. Rather unfair of Ancestry to whet our appetite for more information, only to be told we need to spend yet more money. Could they not at least give us a two week concession?

11 January 2012 at 4:47 pm
John Wynne 

If you make a suggested correction to any of the MANY transcription errors on a page, and then try to correct another record, the system will only allow the details of the first corrected entry to appear in the box.
You have to close the image, and open it again, then select the new error to correct.
It’s not like this on any other Ancestry databse.

11 January 2012 at 4:58 pm
David Faulkner 

As per some of the comments received before…Is this only available for those with Worldwide membership. I have Premium membership and am unable to see any of these records through the card catalogue.

11 January 2012 at 4:59 pm
John Wynne 

You have to give Ancestry credit, though.
139 million records!
They had to use machines to read that lot.
I have found loads so far, despite all the problems.

11 January 2012 at 5:19 pm
FTMFAMILY481 

Right, sorted out viewing the images. I cleared the browser cache (temporary files and cookies). Then the view page told me it had loaded a new viewer. That seems to be ok most of the time.

But this viewer is a monument to how *not* to write a display application. Bringing the image from fuzzy to sharp is a no-no – it strains the eyes because you automatically try to get it into focus – which or course you can’t. Also the drag doesn’t stop as soon as you stop the mouse, it carries on for a short distance.

Further; Has anyone sucessfully browsed the collection from the panel on the right (Browse this collection). All I can get to see is a black image. The same happens when I go forward or back a few pages from a good page.

The transcriptions have been mentioned before. I hope Ancestry hasn’t paid whoever they got to do them. Absolutely appalling. Some years have the names as “surname, forename”- which has thoroughly screwed the OCR software. Have a look at Tower Hamlets 1896.

11 January 2012 at 9:15 pm
John Owen 

5. John Henley
Possibly ASEEKER is a typo error (A and S are beside each other on the keyboard) of the same nature as the one in your post with “oplaced” and “desopite”. However many people are paying money to subscribe to Ancestry, so proofreading to get a better reliability would be useful.
The link in Annabel Reeves’ post is still not working but the one 2. John Howes gives, does take you to the right page.

12 January 2012 at 2:05 am
Sue Ray 

The transcription of this collection is the worst I have ever seen.Many names have not been transcribed at all. Have made numerous corrections in a few minutes. I am unable to zoom in or out of the images for some reason.

12 January 2012 at 10:03 am
Roger 

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, another Ancestry mess up. Found my Grand Father and family living in Finchley in the 1936 register, in 1937 Ancestry have moved the complete street to Islington and after that they completely disappear.

I happen to know the family continued to live in the same house until the mid 1980s (I was born there!) so perhaps someone at Ancestry would like to tell us just what percentage of the London Electoral Register has been transcribed and what is their estimate of the error rate.

12 January 2012 at 1:38 pm
John Wynne 

Ancestry has fixed the problem with using the Advanced Viwer with this database, but the problem with corrections still exists.

When making more than one correction on a page, the “correction box” does not clear the previous entry.

12 January 2012 at 4:19 pm
Andi 

Instead of Ancestry beginning news of this release of info with the following sentence –
“Our NEW London, England, Electoral Registers, 1835-1965, take you back through the history of Britain and London’s democratic system.”

a more honest statement would have said –

“Our NEW London, England, Electoral Registers, 1835-1965, take you back through the history of Britain and London’s democratic system but this is accessible only to subscribers with Premium or Worldwide membership.”

12 January 2012 at 7:37 pm
FTMFAMILY481 

PR people are trained to be ‘glass half full’ people. So you bound to bet some wildly optimistic statements from them.
Like “By following that person through the registers, you can see exactly when their address changed.” And “so a sudden disappearance might suggest they emigrated or passed away that year.”
The reality is that you will be very unlikely to be able to follow anyone through all the years, and if they disappear it just means they are mis-transcribed.
Mind you we’d have a better chance if the new viewer would keep working without blowing up Internet Explorer after a few images.
I think what Ancestry has given us is just half the glass. I eagerly await the other half.

John Wynne: where did you get the information that Ancestry has fixed the Advanced Viewer for this database? Are you refering to the “Advanced Viewer (Beta)” which is a total rewrite and has introduced its own problems.

12 January 2012 at 11:44 pm
John Wynne 

FTMFAMILY481,
I was using the Advanced Viewer, and reported its crashing IE when this database first opened.
Ancestry Support sent me an e-mail yesterday, telling the problem was fixed (or thet they “believe this issue has now been resolved and fixed”, and it no longer crashes my IE.
I tried the Advanced Viewer (Beta) this morning, and that seems to work as well (but I don’t know if it was broken before).
John

13 January 2012 at 9:17 am
Gareth 

Regarding first comment from Ian

Universal suffrage applied from 1928 but significant number of women had voting rights from 1918 onwards, particularly in local elections, and in consequence they appear in these registers

13 January 2012 at 10:54 am
Shillaker 

Following up Ian (1) and Gareth (28) it’s worth pointing out that women were allowed to vote in the county elections under a Local Government Act of 1888. In each list, the female voters were listed in a separate section entitled “County Government Only”.

13 January 2012 at 12:37 pm
David 

To start with perhaps a history lesson is required!, people are only on the electoral roll until a certain age which is about 65 or 70 years old, so for example my grandfather is not on there after 1960 although he lived for another 9 years!. It is a basic fact about the electoral roll that anyone in the UK knows as we all get an annual roll to fill in about the age ranges, perhaps ancestry should ask us first and we can tell them!!.

The transcriptions are awful, 5 out of 6 conseccutive entries are wrong!. Ancestry have paid no attention to the actual documents, eg Woolwich is transcribed as being in Newham on the other side of the River Thames whereas the documents say County of London and Borough of Woolwich, what has made them think that Woolwich has moved??, only North Woolwich is anywhere near Newham. Have ancestry looked at a map of London?.

13 January 2012 at 6:25 pm
David 

I have just amended 26 errors on one double-page and some people have not been transcribed!, It appears that ancestry are adding street names and in some cases adding them to the middle of mis-transcribed people. Incidentally the London Borough of Newham was only created when the Greater London Council was created in 1965 so how is it transcribed as a borough before then?.

13 January 2012 at 7:08 pm
David Newton 

“To start with perhaps a history lesson is required!, people are only on the electoral roll until a certain age which is about 65 or 70 years old, so for example my grandfather is not on there after 1960 although he lived for another 9 years!. It is a basic fact about the electoral roll that anyone in the UK knows as we all get an annual roll to fill in about the age ranges, perhaps ancestry should ask us first and we can tell them!!.”

Wrong. People are still on the electoral register after age 70 as they are still eligible to vote and you must be on the electoral register to be able to vote. However they are not liable for jury service after reaching 70.

14 January 2012 at 2:09 am
David 

“Wrong. People are still on the electoral register after age 70 as they are still eligible to vote and you must be on the electoral register to be able to vote. However they are not liable for jury service after reaching 70″.

Yes, I stand corrected.

14 January 2012 at 2:12 pm
Gerald 

If would appear Ancestry’s use of OCR programs for transcription purposes is creating a real stink. Yes, these programs work great on documents that are extremely clear. The ones Ancestry is running them on are upwards of 120 years old. The printing process was not what it is today. On some pages, the character recognition is excellent, but on others, like one I just looked at in Dorset only TWO of TWENTY-FIVE names were correctly transcribed. Some were missed completely, others added, and most nowhere close to the original.

If Ancestry is going to persist in using transcription techniques like these then they HAVE to verify the transcriptions before they blindly make them available. We all want to see these records released, but at what cost?

You think after the latest release of the 1911 census, and the uproar it created, that Ancestry would start to be a little more careful.

That being said, when a correction is submitted to these horrible transcriptions, it should override a blatantly incorrect transcription, not be listed as an alternative or correction. Take the responsibility Ancestry and say “you are right and we are wrong!” Make the change.

14 January 2012 at 2:52 pm
David 

The use of OCR is clearly not working and to most researchers is not acceptable as ancestry have said that “it is still less accurate than human eyes and brains. These limitations make it impossible to achieve the same level of accuracy found in other indexes. In cases where the original microfilm text is unclear, the OCR technology tries to guess words intelligently”. So we have examples where roads are transcribed several times, all inaccurate of course, names are mostly wrong or untranscribed, Findmypast do not operate in such a way and I would add that after the 1911 census episode (still unresolved!)that similar if not worse errors appear.

If there is too much data then why do the job?, apart from the money, rather than having the researchers as being the important issue.

14 January 2012 at 8:51 pm
Roger 

What I find frustrating is the complete lack of any Ancestry response on the above comments. We now have two major releases of data that are pretty awful to say the least. Comments close on this thread on 25 Jan. Once comments closed on the 1911 census blog Ancesrty appear to have fogotten the problems reported and the promises to keep subscribers informed of progress.

The blog is worse, not a single Ancestry reply, are they hoping we get fed up and go away?

Come on Ancestry tell us what you propose to do to sort out this mess.

15 January 2012 at 10:19 am
David 

Perhaps ancestry should stop releasing data which is obviously not properly searchable and the mis-transcription is lamentable. Instead of investing in new technology ask people if they would be willing to help and I am sure that people would. Ancestry do need to look at their responses or lack of and for researchers to believe that they do have the researchers’ interests at heart, there is no point having most transcriptions if people can’t fnd what they want. Ancestry shoud be open about the limitations of the technology and the use of phrases such as “fully searchable”, when they are not.

15 January 2012 at 7:56 pm
Louise 

Shockingly bad transcriptions which render the data base as unsearchable for the most part. Unbelievable that his was released when the issues with the 1911 census have yet to be resolved. I’m getting more and more disenchanted with Ancestry and am seriously rethinking my subscription. Ancestry seems to care very little to the concerns of their members, and to family history, if they can release this rubbish.

15 January 2012 at 8:23 pm
Annabel Reeves 

Firstly, we would like to thank you for your comments and apologise for any difficulties you are experiencing with our London Electoral Registers, 1835 – 1965.

With regards to our record transcriptions we are constantly seeking new ways to improve this process. Our aim always is to accurately index the information contained in a record but to ensure that the accurate information can also be included in the index at a later date if there are errors, the ‘comments and corrections’ facility allows our members to update or correct a record index.

Please be assured that our customers are our number one priority and due to the number of concerns detailed above, ask that you call our free phone Customer Support number on 0800 404 97 23 so that we can discuss this with you in person.

16 January 2012 at 12:46 pm
Roger 

Annabel,

The ‘Comments and Corrections’ facility is useful only when correcting a single record. What do you propose when a whole database, that for Finchley in 1937 is wrongly transcribed as Hornsey, Haringey. If you look at image 6 it clearly says Finchley, Middlesex. So 641 images each with several hundred records need correcting, I for one do not intend working my way through this little lot putting comments on every one.

Another point, in 1937 both Finchley and Hornsey were in the county of Middlesex, why does Ancestry insist in placing them in London Boroughs that did not exist until the 1960′s

I will phone customer support and I will post their comments.

16 January 2012 at 8:01 pm
FTMFAMILY481 

Annabel,
Adding to what Roger said; the ‘Add Alternate Information’ facility only allows us to put in an alternative name. We cannot A) add a missing record B) correct two names merged into one record, C) correct the County / Borough or Parliamentary Division

Given the monumental number of errors in this index, suggesting that the ‘Add Alternate Information’ facility absolves Ancestry of all responsibility puts you in way off in cloud-cuckoo-land.

The search does not ever match when you enter a County or Borough.

16 January 2012 at 10:20 pm
GRS 

Andi – I use both Ancestry.com and Ancestry.co.uk. I sign-in to both with my user account. I do have the world subscription and I don’t know if that makes a difference or not. Good luck
GRS.
I Seek Dead People

16 January 2012 at 11:47 pm
Roger 

Annabel,

Having slept on my no. 40 above, I should also point out that adding a ‘Comment’ does not help anyone searching the index as it only appears when a record is found. In the case I was describing it would not help anyone searching for someone in that database, unless they happened to stumble on that record as I did.

As FTMFAMILY481 implies it would be better to be able to ‘Add Alternative Information’ to a record as this at least appears to be searched, but when the error is to County/Borough or Parliamentary Division this is just not possible. However, given the sheer volume of just this one mistake even this solution is just not pratical.

17 January 2012 at 8:51 am
David 

I would add as I have e-mailed your ‘support’ team that once again we discover that in fact this is not a complete collection as the rolls end on ancestry around 1960 or 1961 and London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) confirm that there are later rolls to 1965. I understand LMA have receievd a number of comments about this collection that ancestry have ‘transcribed’. I fully support the comments about the wrong boroughs, which didn’t even exist at the time!.

17 January 2012 at 7:01 pm
David Newton 

“With regards to our record transcriptions we are constantly seeking new ways to improve this process. Our aim always is to accurately index the information contained in a record but to ensure that the accurate information can also be included in the index at a later date if there are errors, the ‘comments and corrections’ facility allows our members to update or correct a record index.”

Whilst not useless this firstly does not solve the basic problem and secondly is not nearly as useful as it could be because far from all of the fields can be corrected. For example in the GRO BMD index transcriptions I have frequently come across errors with the spouse surname field for marriage index which cannot be corrected.

As a first step to dealing with this issue all fields of the databases which relate to the individual entries need to be made correctable. The second step is to run all new databases transcriptions through the World Archives Project after initial deployment so that dodgy OCR or transcriptions stand a much better chance of being corrected.

Another thing that needs doing is to distinguish between a correction and an augmentation. At the moment I can add a woman’s maiden name or a precise birth date to a census transcription and that information has nothing to do with the document in question. On the other hand I can correct the spelling of a name or a place of birth and that has everything to do with the transcription. The first two are augmentations of the existing data and the second two are corrections.

No transcription will ever be perfect, but Ancestry is shooting itself in the foot many times with these sort of transcriptions. It is just like the issue of using another family tree as a “source” in the hints section of a person’s record. By all means have the member connect feature, but do not mix up hints about historical documents or transcriptions or indexes with those about Ancestry family trees. Not only are the family trees never primary documentation except concerning the account holder/editors themselves and events they have witnessed, but the vast majority of Ancestry trees are incredibly poorly sourced and a significant minority of them are just simply nonsense. There is making things easy and then there is leading people astray with dodgy information. The “hints” about Ancestry family trees far too often do the latter rather than the former.

17 January 2012 at 7:13 pm
Ken Elliott 

In spite of encountering many of the problems noted, I have still found these records to be very useful and informative. Thank you Ancestry, for making them available. Even with the errors they are a great asset.

17 January 2012 at 10:20 pm
Roger 

Having been in touch with Customer Services I am no happier with these records.

Basically, Ancestry used OCR technology to transcribe these records and dispite the numerous obvious errors seem to be proud of the result. What appears to be a standard e-mail I received states -

“Because these Historical Records have far too much text to be indexed manually, indexes are built using advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to automatically recognize text within an image. We believe we are using the very best OCR technology available, but it is still less accurate than human eyes and brains. These limitations make it impossible to achieve the same level of accuracy found in other indexes. In cases where the original microfilm text is unclear, the OCR technology tries to guess words intelligently.

There are two important points about searching the Historical Record images:

1. It is likely that there are additional matches for your search that could be found by browsing but which are not in the index or search results list.

2. The search results may include “matches” on words other than those you searched for because the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology we use believes they are optically similar enough that your target word(s) may be in the original image.

I do know that the content team is aware of this issue and will be fixing the records as soon as possible.”

As for the problem with Ancestry using Boroughs that did not exist at the time of the record, well this was ignored.

One other comment in the e-mail indicated that Ancestry hope to double the number of records available. No firm date was given but “Fall” 2012 was mentioned. This tells me two things, we are dealing with Americans which perhaps explains the problem with Boroughs and that this collection is incomplete. I have asked what percentage of the total records is currently available but I have yet to have an answer to this question.

Overall I still feel Ancestry could do a lot better.

21 January 2012 at 2:54 pm
David 

It is again a question of why ancestry are making claims about releases of 130 years of electoral rolls when they are not complete. On the basis of the response for the missing aprts of the 1911 census it would seem that ancestry are content to release rolls even though thay are incomplete and in the wrong boroughs. Instead of using OCR technology why not allow people to transcribe them,it would be better than having to deal with customer complaints!.

The basic question is why a list of the boroughs was not prepared before starting and what parishes were included and when, London has had several borough changes over this period. Surely making wide-ranging comments about 130 years that we should be told what rolls have been completed and over what period. I am fed up with receiving ancestry customer satisfaction survey e-mails because the answer is the same in that ancestry have not dealt with the issues.

22 January 2012 at 1:37 am
Rowena 

Previously I have always supported Ancestry with their transcriptions when people have moaned – as I always felt with some wildcard or investigation you could find your ancestor BUT with this latest one the mind boggles – there are pages where the transcription just shows gobbledy gook or indexes the address instead of the name – I am trying to correct all the ones that I can see are wrong as my surname is so rare it is obvious but what about all the others. I don’t mind correcting mine and the neighbours but there are whole pages where I need to let you know that everything is wrong – I think you need to add a button to the pages so when it is an extremely bad page we can let you know. Please do not rush these things as you will end up losing the good reputation you have.

22 January 2012 at 8:10 am
Roger 

David,
I have now had further communication with Ancestry and they have accepted that the Borough/County for the Fincley electoral rolls for 1936 and 1937 have been wrongly transcribed. But this is just the tip of the Iceberg!

By browsing the Collection at

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=1795

you can get a dropdown of the Boroughs/Counties, Parliamentary Divisions and Years that have been transcribed.

A quick look shows, for example, numerous records allocated to the borough of Barnet. Everyone that I have so far looked at should have been in Middlesex. Strangly Middlesex appears to have only one year allocated to it.

Random sampling of other Boroughs seems to show that just about every one is wrong! Ancestry is not even consistant with the mistakes allocating records to a name Borough for some years or simply London for other years.

What a mess – and its all caused by using OCR and not checking the output. Or maybe just having someone who has no knowledge of London do the checking.

The interesting thing is that every record I have looked at clearly includes all the information necessary to get the index right in the first few images.

What

22 January 2012 at 8:40 am
Roger 

Rowena,

Good luck correcting names, there are over 139 Million of them to go through in this collection!

The silliest thing is where the OCR scanner has been run over a header page and has attempted to create names and address from it. Follow this link

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/Browse/view.aspx?dbid=1795&path=Haringey.Hornsey.1937.432&sid=&gskw=

and laugh at the 10 voters listed in the Ancestry Index at the bottom of the screen. This is just one of many examples.

How can Ancestry release this rubbish!

22 January 2012 at 10:03 am
Andi 

I don’t think there should be any expectation that Ancestry will fix these errors. For example, open any random page in any of the censuses and you’ll very soon find various gobbledegook nonsense words and obvious errors that are still uncorrected, years after that census was posted on this site. Many pages have a dozen or more errors on them. It’s the norm rather than unusual. And I’m talking here about pages where writing is clear and legible — not those pages which are faded or torn or otherwise unreadable for various other reasons. As far as I can see, no errors are ever corrected unless a subscriber does it.

There are also people missing from the transcriptions in various censuses. I’ve found almost a dozen myself, just stumbling across them in the course of my own research.
When I contacted Ancestry in October 2009 about one of these omissions in the 1871 census, the reply I got from someone at “Member Solutions” stated the following (and I think it may apply to *any* transcribed info on Ancestry, not just the censuses, which I why I’m mentioning it here) –

“…..Please note that we generally receive data from outside sources and post it as it was provided to us. In order to maintain authenticity in our records, we cannot make changes directly to material not created by Ancestry. To make these types of changes, you will need to contact the original creators of this data, have them correct this in their own records and then send this update to us for posting. We apologize for any frustration or inconvenience this may cause…..”

Note that this says that *I* had to contact the “original creators of this data”, not that Ancestry would do it. So, since I did not follow up on the above advice, the error/omission I told Ancestry about is still there in the 1871 census, ie. a researcher will not be able to find this “missing person” unless they know exactly where she was in 1871 (a pupil at a school in a county which was not her home county).

The reply from Ancestry also stated –

“….If you wish to consult our corporate policy regarding the content provided on Ancestry.com, please go to the following URL:

http://www.ancestry.com/legal/terms.htm#Liability

…..”

It also went on to state –

“…..For additional information on the source of the database, select the Database Title link found at the top of each page of search results. The next page provides information on who compiled the database, including a short bibliography and a brief description of the information contained in the database. Here you will be able to locate the source information for the database in question. This should assist you in contacting the source directly on this matter.”

Perhaps someone can see if this applies to the Electoral Rolls as well (which I can’t access because I don’t pay Ancestry enough for my subscription).

Lastly, Ancestry finished off with this very unhelpful bit of advice –

“….You can also typically add a User Comment to any record that you feel may be incorrect. You will find a “add alternate information” or “add comment” link to the right of each database result. If you add a User Comment (once the feature is again available), your comments or corrections will be connected to the database result for others to view.”

But I had not contacted them about something which was *incorrect* — it was about info that was missing altogether. The above strategy will only work if there is an individual listed in the transcription to add a correction to — it’s useless if the person isn’t listed in the transcription at all!

22 January 2012 at 11:23 pm
Roger 

Andi,

There is a similar missing persons problem with this collection but it is a little more confused.

I understand that the Electoral Rolls came from the London Metropolitan Archives as Microfilm and have been put through an OCR process to transcribe them by Ancestry. Ancestry have also supplied on screen images of the microfilmed pages.

When viewing a page, occasionally the OCR process appears to have skipped a person as they are not in the Ancestry Indax at the bottom of the view. I guess this problem is down to Ancestry to correct.

Every Elector on a Roll has a number allocated to them and in some cases it looks like whole page of the Roll are missing as numbers start at some odd number instead of 1. Now this could be down to Ancestry just not scanning the missing page or it could be that the LMA have not supplied it or it was never microfilmed in the first place.

I have found that Member Solutions tend to be a little difficult to deal with as unless you can give them chapter and verse on a specific problem so that they can verify it, they brush a complaint off. I have learnt that you need to persist.

23 January 2012 at 9:41 am
David 

Roger,

It is clear that a number of people have not been transcribed as they are on the same page and it is beyond belief that you ancestry have not listed whole boroughs as this is how the records are arranged by London Metropolitan Achives (LMA). I have confidence that LMA have supplied the whole collection, if not ancestry should have told us that!. Once again it appears that ancestry have transcribed records solely for financial reasons and not to help researchers!.

23 January 2012 at 2:12 pm
Andi 

Roger,

Thanks for your response. I can’t comment about Electoral Rolls because, as I mentioned, I can’t access them.

But I thought that my comments about Ancestry’s response to errors in census transcriptions might be relevent to the Electoral Rolls as well.

What blew me away was the fact that Ancestry expected me to correct the error myself by contacting the “creator” of the census data.

As for Member Solutions being unhelpful unless, as you said, “you can give them chapter and verse on a specific problem so they can verify it”, I don’t know how more specific I could have been when I contacted Ancestry. That is, in addition to the specific census, I also gave full details about the person omitted from the transcription (full name, age, est DOB, birth city and county, name of her school with specific town and county, district, census page number and page line).

Also, my apologies to everyone for adding comments which are not specifically about Electoral Rolls. It is frustrating that comments on Ancestry blogs are cut off after only two weeks of discussion rather than remaining open for anyone to add further comments as newly-discovered issues and problems arise, eg. recent 1911 census release as well as Electoral Rolls. Or, conversely, to give praise for a “job well done” when things are going well, errors have been corrected or a situation has otherwise improved.

But to have discussion closed off after such a short time frame, even when there are obvious and serious difficulties, it’s “Out of sight, out of mind. No problems here. Everyone move on.”

23 January 2012 at 10:33 pm
Jim 

I totally agree with the coments regarding the errors with The London Electorial Records, especially #51 from Roger, some are very funny.
I have seen some pages with 12 or more entries but only 4 or 5 legitimate names the other names are in fact lines from addresses.

Try searching for MWIK ITIJGWAY for 1874.
There are 9 names listed but only 3 are real names.
Although these errors can be funny what we must realise is that we are paying for a service that we are asked to correct, how many other products do you repair once you have bought them ?

24 January 2012 at 11:43 am