New Record Annotation Capability

Sample Annotation to correct an error in the birth year.

We are very happy to announce a new enhancement to the search experience today called Record Annotations.

Users are always welcome to report errors they find on our site.  In many cases, the problem is mis-transcribed handwriting that we can easily fix.  In the past, we have not been able to fix actual errors in our sources.  For example, the published version of Torrey’s New England Marriages has printed information that is incorrect.  We opted not to correct a wrong name, since any correction would appear to be a mis-transcription to anyone else doing a search.  Record Annotations solves the problem of alerting researchers to issues in our source documents.

Annotations now make it possible to clearly identify errors in underlying records. With annotations we can highlight one or more fields on the record display page and provide corrections with supporting reference information.

If you are reporting an annotation, please provide a reference, preferably in the form of a freely available link.  We want to maintain our high standards of scholarship, and hence will require documentation to make a change, so that other researchers can understand why the change was made.

In the example above ( from the Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880 the birth year for Celia Little was incorrectly recorded in the book as 1754. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has provided us their hand-amended copy of that book and a source reference to Marshfield Massachusetts Vital Records to document the corrected date. On the record display page, you see highlighted birth information. At the bottom of the display area you can see the Corrected Value and supporting Reference information. In this case, we were able to provide a hyperlink directly to the Marshfield birth record which has the correct information.

With this capability in place, we can now respond to members who have found a factual error in a database and can provide one or more references to support the correction. Once the annotation is made, it is available to anyone who displays the information about that record by visiting the record display page.

A new Report Error button was added to the record display, image display and transcript display pages. Clicking on this button will open a form with your email address automatically populated based on your log in id. You can provide corrections and reference documentation in the Comment field, the press Submit Request to send it to  Feel free to use the new Report Error button or the older Comment or Question box to report all types of errors, annotations and questions about databases.

Sample report error form

Once you’ve reported the suggested annotation, we will review then request and the reference information before adding the annotation.

We hope you will enjoy both this new capability and the increased record quality this enables for American Ancestors.

Attribution: This post was a collaboration between Don LeClair and Molly Rogers.