Federal Census Indexing and Original Document Errors
I have found that some United States Federal Census documents contain errors. As a result, they may be indexed incorrectly. Some of the errors are incorrect names and incorrect family relationships. The errors could arise from a bad census taker, a language barrier, or the respondent gave incorrect information. If these documents are accepted as correct, they will corrupt any family tree they are attached to. I know this because it has happened to me. Is there a way to correct these documents and warn users of this in advance?
I sent this message in a private e-mail months ago to FamilySearch.Org , and they replied that they were too overwhelmed to consider this and told me it might be a year or more before they could address it, and immediately marked the request as closed.
In your example, when the document is attached to the family members in Family Tree, we would recommend that you make sure it is attached to the correct family members even if they are listed as the wrong relationship on the document. There is a place you can make a comment or reason statement when you are attaching the source which will help others who are reviewing the source later to understand that a mistake was made by the census taker.3
Hi Stanford Holcomb.
When attaching the Census record, you can change the focus person to the wife, or husband, to be able to add the parents to the correct individual. We enclosed the link above for information on how to do it, in case needed.
We wish you success in attaching the record to the correct individuals.1
The indexing of some census is now editable. I have been able to edit names, I believe. I don’t know if they are slowly working through, and maybe that’s why some are not editable yet. And so far, it’s just been names that ‘ve been able to adjust
As far as family relationships, I feel it is useful to maintain the original record, but to indicate in the tree why you’ve chosen the relationships you have.1
Thanks for the updated info. However, in some cases, it's not useful to maintain the original record regarding incorrect family relationships. This is not a Family Search error. It's a US Census error. I'll try to explain what happened with my ancestors.
A family consisting of a husband, wife, and 3 children have the wife's elderly parents living with them at the time the census was taken. The census taker incorrectly records that it is the husband's parents, and the document is indexed that way. When this document is attached to a family tree, it now records the wife's parents as the husband's parents, and corrupts the family tree. Accurately tracing the family line further back now becomes impossible. I'm sure you would agree that's a problem that needs to be corrected.
Anyway, I will give your suggestion a try and see if I'm allowed to edit the document. Much appreciated.
When I look at this census record: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M39D-TTB?treeref=GZS3-B34
The census image is fine, there are 3 in the family, head, wife and child.
But when I look at the transcript, there is the head, the head and the head; ie. three of the same person. This means I cannot link to the wife or child. This is one of several such records I've come across, some with 6 or more of the head person repeated.
I'm not clear if this is a different error that the one reported above?0
@John1, I don't know exactly what the error was in this thread, but the problems with the 1900 census are known and being worked on. See for example this thread: https://community.familysearch.org/en/discussion/111793/a-gremlin-in-the-1900-us-census-kearny-new-jersey#latest0