An Update History At

Updates are great, but some detail would be nice.

The “Recently Added and Updated Collections” page on indicated that the 1870 and 1860 census collection on their site had been “updated.” There’s only one question:

how? “Recently Added and Updated Collections” screenshot taken 9 January 2018

The details may be buried on the blog. As of 11:55 am central time on 9 January 2018, there was nary a mention of the updates to these (or any other databases). Since I have a list of individuals that I cannot find in both these census records, it would improve my user experience on if I knew with somewhat more precision just what these updates consisted of. My suspicions are that the updates consist of image enhancements, images that were incorrectly linked or missing, or index updates from user submissions. But it’s difficult to know without any discussion of those updates.

There’s a very easy place to put these updates–the search page for the specific database that has been updated.

The search screen contains “Source Information” and (in the case of the censuses) a lengthy  “About” section. There’s room right there for an “update history.” It would not have to be long. It would not have to be lengthy. A simple date of update and a brief discussion of what that update entailed would suffice.

Good genealogy methodology dictates (ok…suggests) that we track our sources and databases as we use them. For databases that are under revision, the date of access to that database should be a part of the citation. It would be helpful to know the date of the most recent update to the database–then the researcher could determine if they should conduct another search of that database to determine “missing”individuals are now included.  lists the “source information” because that’s crucial to citation It is. Update and version information is also crucial to the citation–particularly when we’re citing a database and indicating that we did not find something in that database.

Otherwise I don’t know if I need to search for my Benjamin Butler in this database again or not.


3 thoughts on “An Update History At

  1. My wife has been saying this exact same thing for years. HOW and WHAT was updated?

    The only real question is how do we get Ancestry to listen to those of use who want to know the answers to these questions.

  2. As I just said in another post, ancestry will never listen to its subscribers. Why should they? They have a monopoly. We can kiss their a$$ because they don’t care.

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