Casefile Clues

14 August 2011

Does Ancestry.com Know the UK Death Index is Quarterly

One of the personal frustrations I had with using the index to civil records in England is the fact that the indexes are quarterly--every three months a separate index. Once the researcher gets the hang of it, it's not really a problem and today the indexes are online so the need to search forty indexes to search for ten years of deaths is not necessary.

However, apparently Ancestry.com doesn't quite understand how the quarterly indexes work. The quarterly indexes were used to create larger indexes, in particular the Free BMD index from 1837-1915 which is on Ancestry.com (as part of their subscription service) and available for free at http://www.freebmd.org.uk/.

The problem is with how the index entry is used by Ancestry.com's integrated trees to arrive at a date of death.

There is an entry in the index for Eleanor Rowell:

It shows her death as being registered in Hexham in the first quarter of 1870--January-February-March.
That means she died in that three month time span. Nothing more specific is implied by the index.

Ancestry.com's integration of the reference into my online tree for Eleanor Rowell is indicating a date of death of January 1870 as shown in the image below.


And if I want to add this to my tree, it's easy to see in the screen shot below how Ancestry.com suggests I interpret this date of death--January of 1870.


It's up to the user to know that the death index is quarterly and know that the year is the only thing that should be used (or at least the first quarter).

Some days I wonder if Ancestry.com really has "in the trenches" genealogists using their databases and the online trees.

It is easy to see how an unsuspecting genealogist would just accept this as the death date. But it is not.

I would suggest Ancestry.com only integrate the year from these indexes.

Notice that the registration district is not shown in the "death place." Methinks that Ancestry.com could have figured out that the year was as precise as the date should be as well.