How should I index incorrect records?

While indexing, you may see information on the record itself that is incorrect. Always review project instructions or field helps as each project can have specific guidelines; however, here are some general guidelines to follow.

Miscellaneous mistakes

Here is an example of a miscellaneous record error:

On a death certificate, the clerk recorded the death date as "February 30," and the attending physician wrote that he last attended the patient on "February 3." February does not have 30 days. Can the indexer conclude that the correct death date is February 3?

In general, type only what was shown on the document. The purpose of indexing is to create an accurate record of the information on the original image, mistakes and all. However, rules vary from project to project. Check the field help, which will give any exceptions to this general rule.


Unless the project instructions and field help say otherwise (and they often do!), correct misspellings of place-names.

However, this general rule does not apply to the spelling of personal names. Since it is difficult to know whether a person's name is actually misspelled, you should typically index a person's name as it appears on the record.

Sex is incorrect

For example, you see that the indicated sex does not match the name or the relationship recorded on the document.

On projects that give both a given name and relationship, you can interpret the Sex field using the combination of information. For example, if the given name is "Rebecca" and the relationship is "Wife," but the sex was written as "male," you can type F in the Sex field.

Make the change only if both the given name and the relationship are an obvious contradiction to the sex.

Remember that the index will often be coupled with a digital image of the original document. When researchers use to find an ancestor, they can see the original document and draw conclusions about the people on the record.

Where do I find the indexing field helps?
Where do I find the indexing project instructions?

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