Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I had to decline a Find A Grave edit today

Simmons, William 1978 and Docia Perry 1987
Copyright © 1994 Michele Simmons Lewis*

 For those of you that are familiar with the Edit tab on Find A Grave’s Contributor Tools page, I had to decline two edits today. This is the first time I have had to do this. The two markers in question were from a cemetery survey I did many years ago. At that time I wasn’t photographing markers, just surveying them. The person wanted me to add information to the person’s name and dates that isn’t on the marker. If there is a photograph I will update the information and then put a blurb that “FAG volunteer #999999 states that John Q. Doe’s full name is John Quincy Doe and his full date of birth is 15 June 1858. Please contact #999999 for more information and their sources.”  Since you can see what is actually written on the marker you can take any additional information with a grain of salt. I don’t mind adding it along with a disclaimer. However, if there is no photograph I don’t want to add any additional information that isn’t on the marker because then it is not clear what is on the marker and what isn’t.  I could add a transcription of the marker (there is a place to do that) but it is easily overlooked, especially by beginners who will just see all of that great complete information and they will snag it as is.  I did go in and update the bio section with the information the person gave along with his information but I did not change the name and date that was associated with the person.

A side note, when you use Find A Grave as a source it is the marker photo you are creating a citation for.  If there is no photograph, I don’t use Find A Grave as a source.  You can use the information the person typed into the Bio section as a clue but the evidence is on the marker.


*This is a photo I took of my grandparents’ grave. This isn’t the grave that is in question in the blog post.  I just wanted to jazz up the blog with a photo.

 

Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

18 comments:

  1. In my opinion: It's still a source.
    Not a good one.
    One that should be confirmed through other documents.
    But until that happens, I don't leave the source field blank in my notes or database
    And I have to write the information down or I'll forget it.
    So yes, FindAGrave is the source for any clues I find until I find better ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The way I handle it is that I request a photo. I also enter a To-Do task in Legacy showing that I have requested a photo. If there are some other ways I could possibly get the information, for example, a death certificate, I create a To-Do task for that and then I order the death certificate.

      Worst case scenario - A FAG volunteer goes out and finds that the grave is unmarked. I have contacted the person who manages the memorial they can't remember where they got the information and I haven't been able to find anything that corroborates the information. I will add the information to my NOTES with a full explanation that I haven't been able to verify the information yet and I will list all of my negative searches. I want the information in my notes because it isn't a lost cause, I still might be able to find some verification. However, I would never add this information to the person's vitals fields. If I did, and then I shared that information, people would view that information as correct when in fact there is no basis for it.

      Delete
  2. Good points Michelle - and FindAGrave was set up as a place to share photographs and transcriptions of what was on the gave markers. So many times when information is added (unless there is a source and a person to check with) it is not necessarily correct - I know one person who wanted to add information that they found on an Ancestry tree. FindAGrave and Billion Graves do a great job of what they do and our genealogy software or online trees are the place for additional (and perhaps conflicting) information.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Michele - I agree with you about edits. I have had to turn down some because the requestor would not send me information about the source of their data.
    Like John, I enter FaG as a source. However, I clearly make it an "unverified" source. I make notes about everything as far as the information not being proven. I capture a screen shot of the memorial so I have all of the information saved in case the memorial is later removed.
    Is this a bad thing to do? I use the notes section next to the DOB, DOD and burial line items for each person. I also enter copious notes in "research" notes.
    Thanks for your post.
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I prefer not to enter the information in the vitals fields. I can usually put some sort of estimate in the fields such as abt. bef. aft. based on sources that I do have in my possession. Recording the information on the memorial is for my own benefit (my notes).

      Here is an example, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=42646957 The memorial for Sampson Pope has exact dates. I have requested a photograph of the marker (hopefully there is one). In my file I have Sampson's date of birth as About 1803 (based on what records I have) and his date of death is December 1849 (I got that from the 1850 mortality schedule).

      I have as To-Do task for the FAG photograph. On that To-Do Task have the the FAG dates recorded (in this case I don't have them in my research notes, not sure why but they are recorded on the To-Do task).

      Just as a side note, the person wrote that Sampson died in Monroe County which is in error. The mortality schedule records Marion and that is where he should have been based on where he had been living. I am sure that is a typo but still.

      Delete
  4. Well put in these findagrave issues, Michele. If folks want to add obituaries (with date and newspaper ID) or death certificates (with complete citations) as photos, all well and good. But the elaborate narratives and other claims, such as full-date vitals, put with so many memorials lacking gravestone photos are often just an irritation -- to be noted in software as you do, but awaiting evidence regarding sources and accuracy. Findagrave user entries should be viewed as of the same character as no-source trees.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You need to be careful with obits. This is from the FAG FAQ. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=listFaqs#89

      Death certificates are okay to add. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=listFaqs#155

      Delete
    2. Even death cetificates have errors. I was at the bedside of a cousin during her passing. However, her death certificate noted her place of death as her residence -- a village not far away.

      Delete
    3. Just because an obit and / or death certificate copy has been posted does not mean that ~any~ information in the source is accurate! The persons supplying the data may or may not be identifiable or identified, and may not have first-hand information, or may lie. As you and many others have noted, searching for as much evidence as may be found is necessary.

      Delete
  5. Thank you Michele for discussing the difference between a source and a clue. Unfortunately, this confusion is probably the number one reason for wrong information circulating the internet.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Be careful not to upload vital records from Wisconsin, they passed a law making it a felony I think.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hope the person who submitted the edit will forward it to edit@findgrave.com so the admins can make the edit on your behalf. Findagrave's naming conventions state the full first and middle names, when known, should be used even if they aren't on the stone (although the last name is to be entered exactly as it appears on the stone regardless of whether it is correct or incorrect). It was a valid edit request.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you show me where it says this on Find A Grave?

      Delete
    2. It's located under Memorial Naming Conventions under FAQs.
      First Name
      First name of the deceased. Put the entire first name (if known), even if the grave marker is only an initial. Do not include titles or other prefixes in the First Name field.

      Middle Name
      Middle name of deceased. Put the entire middle name (if known), even if the grave marker is only an initial.

      Nickname
      A familiar name of the deceased, if known; the nickname is automatically placed in quotes. A nickname is different from the real name (first or middle).

      Delete
  8. My two cents - my husband's great-great grandfather has an incorrect date on his marker. Death certificates and obituaries are only as accurate as the person providing the information. My mother's obituary incorrectly lists her father as her husband and it was read out that way during her funeral. We have also found inaccuracies on death certificates although not with dates but names. The search function for Find A Grave is only going to find what is in the Name, Date or Place fields. I'd rather see the extra information whenever possible as it makes for easier searches.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for posting this. I went back and read that section. I do not agree with FAG on this but it is their web site so their rules stand.. If someone provides the full name and dates I will add them along with a HUGE disclaimer in the bio stating where the information came from and that the information is not on the marker.

      Delete
  9. I will do a followup post with this information.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I started with being very picky about ever edit request. If it was not on the stone I would research it. In the long run it took too long. So I noted who gave me the information. Which also took a long time with hyperlinks. After this I think I am going to add the following note to every memorial. "Humanity is flawed. No source can be trused without other sources to back it up.You can not make a sturdy home with only one brick."

    ReplyDelete