Warning - Obituary Errors on Ancestry.com
Oh Oh, Mistakes on Ancestry Obituaries
Recently, Ancestry.com rolled out computer-generated hints based on scans of Newspapers.com obituaries. This makes a great amount of information available to researchers. Unfortunately, these hints are filled with errors.
I'll explain the problem so you won't fill your family tree with mistaken information. Since I subscribe to Newspapers.com, I'm able to fact-check the hints I'm receiving.
The Warning Ancestry Gives
"These facts were pulled from a record by a computer and may not be accurate. Obituary records often include facts for family members of the deceased, some of whom may be living."
An Example of the Mistakes in the Hints
What Went Wrong Here?
- In some cases, the computer mistakenly attached parts of two separate obituaries. This seems to happen if it is in two columns instead of the whole being in one column.
- In other cases, the optical-character-reader had trouble interpreting a font. Example: it lists the location as Ru-h-Sinlby County. The actual location in the news clipping is Rush-Shelby County. The same clipping shows that the children's names are not Hana gun/Y A Goner. The actual name is Mrs. Hanagan Wagoner.
- The computer-generated hint also omits some information. Going to Newspapers.com and reading the actual article provides the full date of death, not just the year. It also tells what caused her death, where she was born, and where buried. I was also able to find the state when I read the actual clipping, not just the county where she died.
Seeing the Actual Obit
Checking the Hints
To go to Newspapers.com to view the actual clipping of the obituary does require a subscription. There are free newspapers online as well (Chronicles of America) but I have my best finds on Newspapers.com.
Correct the Errors You See
If you view the clipping and see what the names and dates should be, make corrections so future searchers will have the right information.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Virginia Allain