Talk:FamilySearch Indexing: US, District of Columbia-Deaths, 1874-1959

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Question: I am sorry if I am not doing this correctly, I can't follow this site very well yet, but I had some questions specifically regarding the District of Columbia death records and I didn't see a function that was "ask a question" - sorry!

  1. I am completing a batch right now, and the gentleman on the death record was not listed with a "title" at the top of the certificate, where his name was recorded; however, he was listed as a "Captain in the US Navy" under job description. Should I include his title of "Captain" when indexing?
  2. I have come across two records where the name was listed as "infant child of..." or "infant boy of..." with the parents' names listed. I recorded the parents names in the indexer, but should I put anything for the name of the child or just leave blank? I saw in the instructions that we should not put things like "baby" or "infant" - but if no other name is listed, is this still appropriate?
  3. Are we to index EXACTLY as written on the death record, or make corrections when we know they are incorrect? I had one where the surname of the child was spelled different than the surname of the parents and it was an obvious mistake (I believe it was the child spelled with the name "Jonnes" and then it listed "child of " and had the parents names listed as "Jones." Should I record as "Jonnes" and "Jones"?
Answer: You added your questions perfectly. Here's what I would do:
  1. I would only add something to the Titles and Terms field if it was written "with the name" (according to the Field Help). If the word Captain had been written right in front of the name or just after I would put it in, but in the situation you mentioned I would leave it out.
  2. The given name of the child should be left blank, or marked as blank because it's probably a required field. If there is a Titles and Terms field available you could add the terms Infant Child or Infant Boy to that field.
  3. Index exactly what was written on the record, especially with given names and surnames. In the situation you mentioned, we don't know whether "Jonnes" or "Jones" was the correct spelling, so it's always best to type what you see and not try to interpret the record. Occasionally the field help will instruct us to correct misspellings (usually for place names) or select the closest match, but I've never seen that instruction in a Given Name or Surname field.
    --GaleK 18:50, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Question: I downloaded batch # 004259153[119] US, District of Columbia Deaths for arbitration.
The 2nd and 10th images are Certificates of Death from the District of Columbia. There is no Death date listed, but there is a burial date.
Should the burial date be indexed in the death date fields, or should the death dates be left blank?

Answer: You may have already submitted this batch by now, but this could come up again.  That's ok to index the burial date in the death date fields.  This is done often in the UK parish records projects where it asks for burial date, but death date is often given. Because of the wide variety of images in a project like that, that's ok here too.  --VasquezJL 18:32, 12 August 2010 (UTC)


Question: When the place of death is listed as Washington DC, how is this to be indexed in the city, county, and state fields? Does it all go in the city field, or does "District of Columbia" go in the county (or state) field?--Oxxguy 01:57, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Answer: That is a great question. Washington DC is not technically any of those types of places - it's a Federal district. Technically, the right way to do it for the standards (the way FamilySearch makes things searchable in the final database) is to put "Washington" in the City field and "District of Columbia" in the state field. However, most people won't be aware of that and so even if Washington DC is all together in the city field it is ok and will be standardized after the fact.--VasquezJL 20:17, 1 September 2010 (UTC)


Question/comment: I've indexed a lot of DC death records and had no problem.  However, as an arbitrator, I end up sending most of them back because they keep marking "duplicate" images or no extractable data.  Is there some way to get the message to these indexers in advance that they should index each page on the film?  Thanks. Linda M

Answer: This has been posted in the instructions and sent out in broadcast messages. Unfortunately, many aren't seeing these instructions. It may be appropriate to send out more messaging at this point, thank you for the work you are doing to be sure that they are indexed correctly in the end.--VasquezJL 03:54, 5 November 2010 (UTC)


Question: When there is only a street address in the place of death, should I assume that it is in Washington itself and put that as the city of death?

Answer: No, it's generally not a good idea to assume one place name based on other information on the record. Just index the information that actually is shown on the record.--VasquezJL 03:54, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

Question: I have been indexing some of these DC records and am wondering about Burial Permits/Transit Permits that have a front and a back included on the same image. Should I add an extra record for that image to account for the back of the permit, and then mark the back as No Extractable Data? I know that I should be entering the information from the front side of the permits, but am wondering about the backs. Thanks! 

Question:  Many of the record numbers now contain a letter and dashes, such as F-60-82.  How do I index these in the No. of Record field?  Thank you!

Common Indexing Mistakes

Arbitrators - please report common mistakes you see as you are arbitrating.  As needed, this information will be moved over to the Updates section on the main instructions page.


Question: I downloaded batch # 004259153[19] US, District of Columbia Deaths 1875-1959 for arbitration.  It has 10 images total

1st image is a death certificate, 2nd image is a burial permit

3rd is d.c.,  4th is "Transportation of Dead Bodies"

5th is d.c., 6th is "Transportation of Corpse"

7th is d.c., 8th is burial permit

9th is d.c., 10th is "transmit permit"

the information on the burial permit, transport documents repeats the info on the death cert. and may have additional information such as transportation of body to Fitchburg, Mass.

Should the burial, transport documents be indexed ?  Many of them are marked as <no extractable Data>

Answer: Yes, those should all be indexed.  This is a common problem where we see indexers marking those images as no extractable data.  --VasquezJL 20:48, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Who is VasquezJL?

I don't know how to use this Wiki but here goes with my question(s).

1. Is VasquezJL authorized to make decisions or are his/her comments just opinions?

2. Can we assume that the place on the "Burial or Removal Permit" is the place of death for that record?

George Waller

OOOps!  I just clicked on VasquezJL and discover that he/she IS authorized to make decisions.  My profuse apologies.

George Waller

That's great that you jumped in, even when you weren't sure how to use it! We are all just figuring it out as we go.
1. Haha, no worries. I forgot that I put that info there. But still you asked a great question. Because anything that anyone writes (even when they have signed their name to it) can be edited at a later point, you should probably just assume that it's opinion, no matter who they are. There are some general guidelines where indexing is concerned, and when the questions about how to index fall under those guidelines, the answers are usually pretty easy. When they don't fall under those guidelines, there are other even more simple guidelines that help: 1. Type what you see, and 2. Use your best judgment. Hopefully what comes out of rule #2 is based on a strong knowledge of those basic indexing guidelines. But because we are dealing with documents in which the recorders and the people in the documents are not around anymore to ask questions of (or give handwriting classes to), there is a lot that we must make a best judgment on. And where that is concerned, those with a strong knowledge of the record set that we are indexing may even have a better "best judgment" than many others. :) 
2. Follow-up question: Do you have a share batch number we could look at? I have seen these but don't have one in front of me at the moment. It's generally a good idea not to assume anything as we look at these documents. However, at times there is enough information on the record that you're not really assuming anymore. So I would want to look at a record to give a good answer there. --VasquezJL 02:49, 8 September 2010 (UTC)
In my opinion you cannot count on the place named in a document as being the place the person died unless it explicitly says so. I had a batch recently in which a woman died in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was buried some 50 miles away in (I think) Lakehurst. Some time later she was removed from Lakehurst to Washington DC. I cannot recall what was on the transfer document, but it could easily have said Lakehurst, since that was where the body was.--Oxxguy 22:51, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

Fixing spelling errors

Officials make two common spelling errors in the project records:

1. Entering "Silver Springs" instead of "Silver Spring"

2. Entering "Prince George" instead of "Prince George's"

I enter the correct spelling.and wish there were a way to inform the arbitrator who may simply think I am wrong.

I also expand the common abbreviation of "Mont" to "Montgomery" for that county in Maryland.


George Waller

Fixing spelling errors and expanding abbreviations in place names is certainly the right thing to do and conforms to the guidelines.  I've found and fixed the same things.  I don't worry about the arbitrators--it's their job to determine what's right.  Anyone who looks at a list of Maryland counties sees immediately that it is "Prince George's".  As an indexer I've seen enough misspellings that I never take for granted what a clerk has written but always check an authority when there is any doubt at all. --oxxguy 20:05, 11 September 2010 (UTC)
I keep my browser open while I am indexing so I can quickly google and check spellings of place names. --Julie H

Image type

I think it would help indexers with this project if they knew each image has to have an image type entered as well as a table entry.  In my first batch I thought the image type applied to the batch of 10, and that there were duplicates.  I tried to backpedal and enter "duplicate image," but I couldn't and even the quality check didn't really help.  Just saying "Toggle between Image type and Table Entry for each image" would help.  I apologize in advance to the arbitrator for my messy first batch!

1960 records

Today I downloaded DC death records to index and they are from 1960.  When I enter that date, it is flagged for review, I guess because it is outside the parameters of the current project.  I'm going to go ahead and complete the batch, but I would appreciate hearing if we are moving into another group of these records.