APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2009-01 > 1232216785
From: "Peggy K. Reeves" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] LDS databases and accountability
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 13:26:25 -0500
References: <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <49471F30.email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <4948828E.email@example.com> <01db01c960d7$9d797e30$d86c7a90$@net> <494AEC82.firstname.lastname@example.org> <006601c96f1b$f6e3e3a0$e4abaae0$@net> <49708C47.email@example.com><005501c9786c$9ef817b0$dce84710$@net>
> Peggy, I can't address those you can't find because I don't know who they
> are. But I have yet to find an instance of a barred and disallowed M-1407
> claim that is not represented at Footnote, whether appealed to the
> Congressional Court of Claims, or not.
I have had absolutely no problem locating and viewing Court of Claims
files from the information given on the NARA microfilm index. I use a
lot of NARA indexes and files on a regular basis. The microfilm indexes
are quick and easy, and the microfilm viewer doesn't ever give a message
saying "come back soon", or slow down to a crawl wasting my time when a
server is busy. Are you suggesting I should try a hundred different
ways to scan the names I need? There is no possible way to know what
kind of ridiculous "official" reading of the name got keyed in to the
online index, based on the instructions that are given to indexers! The
actual name that makes sense is what I easily found on the microfilm,
and I am going to do everything that I can to keep that microfilm room
OPEN, so that we can all have access to everything.
Do people really need more examples of missing or botched files? If so,
I could compile quite a list, but not from home because I canceled my
Footnote subscription when I realized I couldn't trust a Footnote scan
to tell me whether something actually existed or not. I found it was a
huge waste of time. If I can't trust the online service to be complete
and readable, and I have to check it again at NARA anyway, then why bother?
Doesn't asking for more examples distract from the problems that have
already been clearly stated? Nobody had any answer at all for those 25
pension files where only one could be found at Ancestry, AND it was only
the first 25 on the roll that I jotted down. It is likely that the
better part of that entire roll is missing. When is that going to be
addressed? No one answered why the Bible record examples that I gave
(from Footnote) were botched and not "double checked". I told Footnote
about that one a couple years ago. Is it fixed? The only thing I have
heard is the usual "distraction technique", where my words got twisted
and selectively retold to make people forget the serious issue that I
Has anyone ever scanned for a common last name in a database that was
created from NARA microfilm and thought: "Gee, there ought to be more
of them than that"? That's a clue that it was probably a bad roll of
microfilm that came up as blank pages with the low-resolution scanning.
It's a shame that many people do not have easy access to the NARA
microfilm to be able to see it for themselves. But at least for now,
people can get someone else to check it for them. That may not be true
for much longer. Anyone who has rented FHC films know that they have a
LOT of poor microfilm that is difficult to read on a microfilm viewer.
The exact same thing is going to happen when they scan those films to
put them online. A lot will just plain disappear, since many
courthouses refer people to the FHC for their records.
Langdon's last message eloquently stated the obvious truths, and I agree
with every bit of it.
As far as what to do about it...
Why would companies making millions selling a faulty product be
interested in a professional organization coming in to straighten them
out? Business runs on the law of supply and demand. As long as there
is an army of subscribers content to believe whatever they are told,
these companies continue to make millions and don't need to change a
thing. It amazes me that there are thousands of American-born children
named "Sanil", which sounds Indian, and that this is supposedly the
correct way to create a finding aid! As long as people believe this,
any plan sent to these companies is going to be received with great
I would propose the following:
1. Educate the masses for the buyer to beware, and do it quickly before
more record repositories scale back their microfilm and record-copying
ability in favor of making us all dependent on poor scans and indexes
created by indexers taught to ignore all good sense, even to the point
of making males into females and vice-versa! I realize that sometimes
you can't know, but if it's a census that gives relationships such as
"wife", "son", etc..., that's where good sense would come in to ignore
the "F" and "M" and make a better finding aid instead of a useless one.
2. When NARA has their public hearing, the room needs to be packed with
independent professionals and representatives from professional
genealogical societies, with letters pouring in from others all across
the country. This includes sending letters to members of Congress.
They are the ones who can do something about it.
3. There needs to be a demand for the written NARA contracts with
Footnote, Ancestry, and FamilySearch to have clear penalties in place
for nonperformance and incompetence, and a contact person for people to
report violations to. The South Carolina deaths is a great example of
pure incompetence. When a database like that is discovered, they should
be required to take it offline immediately until some competent person
can go back and clean up the mess and do it right. This would provide
incentive for proofreading and getting it done right the first time.
Rushing a product to market by getting whatever volunteers can be
snagged from the FamilySearch website or elsewhere, and then closing
access to those records/films, making us all dependent on that poor work
4. There also need to be fines for incidences of false advertising.
One of the past press releases at FamilySearch actually claimed that one
of the subscription services were scanning some NARA records that you
can't see otherwise even if you go to NARA in person. That is
ridiculous! You can go and look at whatever you want, either on
microfilm or the originals. We should print and save examples of this
to submit with our letters/testimony.
It would be great if those who agree and have examples of their own
would start telling others openly instead of only telling me their
stories privately. Educating folks who don't know is where it has to begin.
|Re: [APG] LDS databases and accountability by "Peggy K. Reeves" <>|