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Archiver > APG > 2009-01 > 1232225860

From: <>
Subject: [APG] FW: LDS databases and accountability
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 14:57:40 -0600

I wrote:
> Peggy, I can't address those you can't find because I don't know who they

Peggy then wrote:
>Do people really need more examples of missing or botched files?

Ah, Peggy, at last we agree on a point!

Peggy also added:
>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. . . .

>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 . . . 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".

>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. . . . 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

Peggy, in just three paragraphs here we're told that (a) Footnote's work
can't be trusted, (b) NARA's work can't be trusted, (c) Ancestry's work
can't be trusted, and (d) FHC materials can't be trusted.

The obvious point is that no database or derivative source can be
trusted--or even an orginal, for that matter. Again, we agree on that point.
However, it's hard to solve any problem when our complaints are aimed in
every direction.

Yes, problems exist with the policies of all archives and commercial
suppliers. Yes, we all wish for better performance out of everyone. However,
my observations across the past four decades in this field convince me that
we don't achieve that better performance from others by broadcasting blanket
condemnations or organizing rebellions. Archives, when confronted with
angry dissidents in the genealogical community, simply turn their backs on
us. Commercial suppliers, if their subscriber base goes away, go out of
business and we're left with nothing.

The Association of Professional Genealogists, which sponsors this
list-serve, is a trade group organized to further the practice of genealogy,
the quality of that practice, and the materials available for practicing it.
As a professional group, led by broadly experienced professionals who
understand genealogical needs, archival practices, and commercial
exigencies, APG is in a position to develop sound quality-control guidelines
and to approach both archives and commercial firms in a spirit of
cooperation and negotiation. That approach is far more likely to be listened
to than all the carping we do as frustrated individuals.

If you (meaning all subscribers to this list) are a member of APG, then I
hope you will urge your officers to develop quality-control guidelines for
record providers and to enter into dialog with them to eliminate any lapses
in their quality-control processes--and I hope that those of you who place
high priority upon this issue will lend your expertise to the effort.

If you are not a member of APG, then I hope you will join and make an impact
by strengthening APGs ranks and resources. Together, if we devise workable
solutions and approach record providers courteously, we'll have far more
chance of achieving our common goals.


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
APG member, Tennessee

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