Editing Dates and Places on Indexed Records—FamilySearch Update

March 31, 2020  - by 

We lean heavily on correctly indexed records to help us find our ancestors. However, indexing errors happen from time to time. These errors can cause problems for people searching for records about ancestors or accurately recording information in family trees.

In 2019, FamilySearch released an update that allowed people to edit names in indexed records. A recent update now allows you to edit places and dates that were indexed incorrectly. Note that this feature may not yet be available for all indexed FamilySearch records, but it will be available in the coming months.

When to Edit a Date or Place in an Indexed Record

Indexed records may show incorrect information for a couple reasons. One reason could be that the record itself contained incorrect information—for example, the original recorder misspelled the name of a place. An indexed record might also be incorrect because an indexer might have entered the place-name or date differently from what the record listed.

How to Edit Dates and Places in Indexed Records

The following is an example of how to edit a place-name; the same steps would apply for editing an incorrect date.

Let’s take a look at a scenario in which a birthplace was recorded incorrectly on the original record.

Indexed record screenshot

In this record from the United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918 collection, Joe Nimeth’s birthplace was entered as “Karmed, Hungary.” No place in Hungary is spelled as “Karmed”; however, there is a place named “Körmend.”

After looking at the original document and doing our due diligence with verification, we can edit the birthplace in the index by following these steps.

1. To the right of the words “Karmed, Hungary,” click Edit.

Edit indexed record screenshot

2. In the next window, change the Event Place to Körmend, Vas, Hungary.

wrong place edit indexed record index

3. Next, under step 2, click the Highlight button.

Highlight button edit indexed record screenshot

You will then be directed to click and drag a box around the place-name in the document.

Edit record detail screenshot

4. Finally, choose a reason for the change from the drop-down options in step 3. In this case, we chose “Wrong in the document.” Add a note to explain your reason, and then click Save.

Reason to make change edit record detail

How to View Previous Edits

Let’s look at an example of a date edit that has already been completed.

Preview edits screenshot

In this record from the South Africa, Cape Province, Civil Deaths, 1895–1972 collection, the event date was originally indexed as 26 Oct 1953. After someone reviewed the original image, the event date was edited to be 26 October 1952.

To see this edit and any reason attached to the correction, you can click View to the right of the new date. In the next window, you will see the highlighted area that was edited, the date the edit was made, the person who made the edit, and the reason for making the edits.

Incorrect date indexed record screenshot

Making Additional Edits

Anyone who disagrees with the conclusion can make additional edits to this record. Edits do not override information already on FamilySearch.org but rather add to it. The originally indexed information and changed information both become searchable.

Now that you see for yourself how easy it is to edit places and dates, give it a try yourself! Go to FamilySearch.org, and search for your ancestors in the millions of records online. When you find incorrect dates and places on an index, verify the correct information, make the edits, and help yourself and others achieve family history goals!

Amie Tennant

Amie Bowser Tennant is a genealogy researcher, writer and presenter.She writes blog articles and other content for many top companies and societies in the genealogy field. Her most treasured experience is working as a consultant for family history. Amie lives with her husband and three children in Ohio, surrounded by many of her extended family.

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Comments

  1. Dear, while making transcriptions of the court records of Herselt (Belgium) I also find notarial documents of the same village dating back 1665 (film 792402) which I found not belongs to Herselt but to Tienen (Tirlemont), Belgium.

  2. Have been using the edit feature for names since it was instituted. Great to have it for dates and places as well! Having reviewed others’ comments, I can’t stress enough the importance of entering a REASON for the change or correction, with additional information if possible. I work as a community volunteer in a FHC, and as quite aware that individuals don’t always “agree” with records as they are posted, but do’n’t have any actually basis for a change.
    It’s the “my family has always spelled it that way” approach. Thanks again for opening up edits!

  3. I have found titles of microfilm apparently wrong in my German ancestors in the land of Baden. The title refers to the Pressian land incorrectly. Can we change the title on the microfilm?

  4. Amie,

    I know this comment will anger some, but that is not my intention. My intent is to stop a huge headache down the road.

    I appreicate everyone with their dedication of data entry, scanning, and photographing. I do not agree with allowing any person, including me, the ability to make changes/alterations to records to any part of the process. This should be left to a certain group to make those changes, because they will make the edits based on careful research. I fear that some will make changes without doing deligent research or based on what family talk “that is inaccurate, because my grandparent, uncle such and so, said they were from ….”. I see this in Ancestry.com, where people will just attach any record, because it “looks” accurate, but in reality it is inaccurate.

    Therefore, if you have any input please revoke this feature and only limit it to certain people. Otherwise, someone in the future will have to spend countless hours of rediting the index records, because someone accidently or purposely (unfortunately, it is the truth) made inaccurate edits.

    Sincerely,
    Ken

    1. Ken, I started using this without really knowing how to use it and I didn’t know it was permanent, now I have a mess of a start of my tree……so someone like me accidentally screwing up someone’s work without realizing it… now I’m trying to “fix” it and I feel like I’m making it worse…….

  5. Both my mother and father were entered into your system by someone unfamiliar to me and they were assigned a “reference?” Number. I entered them with correct information and they were given a separate listing with new numbers. How can the original entries be deleted?

  6. But there is lots that is not possible to edit. I’m just watching a post for a woman called Theresa, where her name has been indexed as Thersera. I know a indexed birth record for a relative also called Pemer who had a daughter in 1706. For some strange reason, the baptism witnesses have been mentioned first in this birth record and the names of the parents last. The mother Anna Pemer is the very last mentioned name, after Peter Eek who is the father. But the post has been indexed by someone who managed to detect Anna’s name as mother in the bottom, but has assumed the very first mentioned baptism witness Hans Larsson was the father.

    Familysearch is loeaded with misindexed posts like this. And how children in Sweden may be indexed with a patronymicon based on the first name of the father, also when he has a family name, or when what has been assumed to be the father’s first name is actually a title or profession.

    The site would really need a much more general edit function. There is so much I see here, that I would need to correct. All the time I’m here.

  7. I completely agree with the person who warned about problems. I have experienced someone who made changes to my tree that are wrong. I do very careful research but some people either don’t have the training or just aren’t careful. It is maddening. I think you will have more complaints than compliments for this change. I oppose it.

  8. This is a great feature. Thank you! I do wonder if there is a way to correct or change the spelling of a name. The reason I ask is that both my great aunt and great uncle were indexed with their first and middle names only (Their middle name was their mother’s maiden surname.) on the 1911 census, but their surname had been dropped. One was residing with a family in Tamworth and the other with a family in Camden East. It is appreciated the census cannot be changed, but it would be great to be able to make note of it on the system so that others could find it.

    1. Hi Sharon! You can click here to find the instructions on how to change vital information in your Family Tree, such an ancestor’s name. Hope that helps!