Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Accuracy of Catalog Entries in the Catalog

Many of the digitized documents on the website are not indexed. If you want to view the images you need to search in the Catalog. The main way to search in the Catalog is by the places that events occurred in your ancestors' lives. To find the proper records to search, researchers rely on the catalog entries to identify the records. For example, here is a record of a birth in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

The link takes us to this record for citation: "Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915, 1921-1924", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 27 October 2020), Sarah Borstell, 1894.

The image linked is as follows with Film # 004212538;

The information link at the bottom of the page takes us this entry:

I searched the list for the film number given for the record above and found the record among the those on the list. 

I would think I was going to find a death record, but what I found was a birth record. 

This example might be a little bit obscure but it raises an issue with how the FamilySearch Catalog is working or not working. Presently, while looking for records in the catalog, I get this newer page of information that is not consistent with the actual records.

From this entry, you would think you had a death record. But there is not one in the sources listed on on the record shown as the reference. 

This confusion comes primarily from the initial faulty catalog entry. What this should indicate to a careful researcher is that when you see a list of documents such as this one from Uruguay,

that apparently has records for births, you should look further. In this case, the first entry listed says that it has births from 1879 to 1891. If you work your way through 2930 images, you will find that the first set of records begin in 1920. Here is the link to the list of these collections.

 In this particular section of hundred of collections of Uruguayan records, many of the catalog entries are wrong.  For example, the next section, Sección 8. Nacimientos 1881-1889 does begin with records in July of 1881 and the collection that starts with 1920 ends with the rest of 1881. 

Jumping down a ways in the long list of collections, there is another section from the same time period. 

The first one in the list is Sección 10. Nacimientos 1879-1893. Hmm. This on starts off with records from 1928. 

I could go on and on with these examples. Unfortunately, I do no have the time or access to the Catalog database to audit all these cataloging errors. But as genealogical researchers using the FamilySearch Catalog, I would suggest that you take the time to examine all the collections in a country. You may find that the 1920 records you are looking for are located in a collection that says it ends in 1881. Just beware. In this post, I have not even started to give examples where the records are not only not in the correct years but are scrambled together without being in any chronological order. 

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