Ancestry’s Catalog: Slowly Becoming Inaccurate

Ancestry taught me an important lesson: make a copy of all sources attached to the tree.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m thinking about letting my subscription to Ancestry expire. I used to feel enjoyment working on my family tree. Lately, it is more frustrating than rewarding.

For the past couple of weeks, some of Ancestry’s archives having been showing Black ancestors as White. For example, when I added Pierce Mathis’ death certificate to his profile, he was listed as a Black male. I noticed a couple of weeks ago, it changed to him being listed as White.

I realized when I searched for someone who was Black (in this archive), and received no results, that it might have been due to this bug, not because the death certificate did not exist. I do not know how long this was going on. Looking into this further, I noticed large amounts of the South Carolina Death Records had this error. I reported it, and it was like this for weeks. Then I noticed Pierce Mathis’ race changed to Non-White.

Again, this is a problem because the information does not match what is on the death certificate. Non-White means everyone that’s not White (Hispanic, Asian, etc.), which is not helpful at all. If you search by race, Non-White does not display results because they didn’t code the database to search for that as a racial designation. This destroys the integrity of source material, changing it to something inaccurate. I would like to know how this error happened because that is not an error that could happen without human intervention.

I decided to work on another part of my tree. I looked in the city directory archives for something, and half the directory was missing. Anything pinned to my tree already is missing. At that point, I was done.

I’m blessed that I do not rely on Ancestry to host my tree. I use software to maintain my tree. The problem is that all sources on Ancestry are not downloadable. I used to take screenshots of everything, told myself I was being paranoid, and I stopped. I’m going back to taking screenshots (that I will not upload to Ancestry) to keep the integrity of my sources valid. If Ancestry removes something, I’ll have a copy.

I’ll use the time to strengthen my tree (on my computer). I have tons of records I still need to clip to it. And I need to add the DNA matches I’ve figured out to the tree. I decided to add Enumeration Districts (ED) to my tree, so it is easier to keep track of people. Searching through the 1950 census right now is painful (as expected). It’s not fully indexed, and so many families moved! Knowing the ED information would make it a bit easier.

Be careful trusting Ancestry with your tree.

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