on the problems relating to errata in databases.
I also want to use this opportunity to clarify the original subject line on this thread.
There are some databases that can be searched via JewishGen that are made
available by independent organizations among. This includes, Jewish Records
Indexing - Poland (JRI-Poland.org).
Therefore the original subject line on this thread might have been more accurately
titled as it now appears above. That is, "How to correct information in databases
displayed on JewishGen."
Miriam has shared some very important observations from her experience. That is:
"indexers are SUPPOSED to transcribe them exactly as they are written.
If there is an obvious error or discrepancy in a record" and that "many
indexers will add a note about it."
Over the years, JRI-Poland has discovered a multitude of errors/conflicts that can
creep into records such as - but certainly not limited to:
1. Names data entered from index pages vary from the actual record.
These are corrected as JRI-Poland supplements the original index as part of
the Phase 3 initiative to fully extract vital records. This article, in part, describes
both the Phase 3 initiative and other aspects of JRI-Poland activity).
2. Records (Akt numbers and associated names) missing from index pages.
3. Surnames spelled differently in some records and are not sound alike matches.
Example: FRYMAN and FRYDMAN. This may be an error but in other cases,
an indication that a family used both names or simply the responsible registrar
varied the name for unknown reasons. We do not change the name but we
make an appropriate notation in the record entry.
4. Typographical errors (Information incorrectly data entered by volunteers or
While making individual corrections to our online data currently requires removing
and replacing the entire file from our database, this will be changing under the
Next Generation website and data management system. ("NextGen" was the
subject of the JRI-Poland presentation at the IAJGS International Conference on
Jewish Genealogy held virtually earlier this month.) At that time, single corrections
Stanley Diamond, M.S.M.
Executive Director, Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, Inc.
|Re: How to correct information in Jewishgen Databases #records|
From: Miriam Bulwar David-Hay
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 2020 09:42:37 EDT
As someone who has done indexing of Polish Jewish records for JRI-Poland, as well as translations of yizkor book entries for JewishGen, I’d like to clarify a few things here. There are really two places where errors can occur: either in the records themselves, or in the transcribing of records by an indexer.
With regard to the first category, the records are primary historical documents that say whatever they say, and indexers are SUPPOSED to transcribe them exactly as they are written. If there is an obvious error or discrepancy in a record — for example, one I have seen personally is in a World War II document where a person’s birth year was written as 1824 instead of 1924 — many indexers will add a note about it, but that is up to the individual indexer. It is not the job of JewishGen or of any indexer to fix the error or perceived error, and definitely not to embark on research to see if that record matches other information. I should also point out that most indexers are volunteers, and we put in a great deal of our own effort and time to index often hundreds or thousands of records in a set. Expecting volunteers not only to index records but also to fact-check the data they are indexing is neither realistic nor reasonable.
With regard to the second category, mistakes made in transcription by an indexer, yes, of course that happens. As I wrote above, indexers go through at hundreds or thousands of old records, which were written by myriad hands in old-fashioned and sometimes not-so-clear cursive script, and however conscientious and careful we may be, we can make errors. From personal experience I can say that in handwritten Polish documents, names like Chana, Chawa and Chaja, Moszka and Mordka, Icek and Josek, Srul and Szmul, and many others, can easily be confused for one another. One of my ancestral surnames is Kaluszyner; in Polish there is a stroke through the l, and I have sometimes seen this name indexed (wrongly) as “Katuszyner.” If someone does notice a mistake in transcription, I suppose they could write to JewishGen or JRI-Poland or whoever’s database it is, but I don’t know whether they have the ability, the staff or the resources to fix such errors. But really, does it matter so much? Thorough researchers will try to find all possible variations of the names of their ancestors, including unlikely ones, and will always aim to look at the original document and not just the index.
Finally, I’d just like to say that for me, and I’d imagine for many others, voluntary work is our way of giving back for all we have learned and gained from these websites over the years. In turn, the efforts of volunteers are what enable websites like JewishGen and JRI-Poland to offer the wonderful resources they offer.
Wishing everyone all the best,
Miriam BULWAR DAVID-HAY,