Sunday, February 17, 2008

Houston, We May Have A Problem...

The 24/7 Family History Circle posted, as it usually does, What's New at Ancestry

On the list was: Missouri Birth Records, 1805-1980 (Updated)


I quickly went and typed in my own surname.
The results turned up 1 person born in 1889, and 3 appearances of another born in 1909.

I knew about the latter, as I discovered her on the Missouri State Archives awhile back. She's a daughter of Sol Newmark and Sarah Nathan (the couple married in the Great Synagogue of London in 1901.) She didn't live long enough to appear on the 1910 census. The 1889 individual wasn't in the State of Missouri database, though I don't know why not. I was aware of Newmarks in St. Louis prior to our family, and they either died or moved before we showed up. I haven't yet figured out whether or not they were related.

However, no other Newmarks appared in the results, and this was supposed to be 1805-1980. That suggested some serious gaps. My great grandfather, Barney, his brother Sol, and other brothers Max and Israel, all reproduced some more, and there were many grandkids. And great grandkids, too.

Since Ancestry allows you to search on just one field, and allows a +-20 year search, I made that the field, and discovered there was a grand total of 4 records between 1940 and 1980. (One of which was a birth certificate from California!)

A little more research revealed there was 1 entry for 1934, another for 1933, and 5 for 1932. I think more than 7 people were born in Missouri from 1932-1934.

In 1931 there's a sudden explosion of results: 50.
In 1930: 509
1929: 1609
1928: 3536

I'm not quite sure what's going on, as in 1912, the year my grandfather Melvin Newmark was born, there is only one entry. Not him.

I suspect some counties in Missouri may have released some more recent records. The big question in my mind, since there is a significant, if not completely sufficient, privacy window between 1934 and now, is those four *certificates* from 1951, 1966, 1973 and 1980.

I sent Juliana at Ancestry an email notifying her of this issue.


Lidian said...

That is quite strange - wonder what's going on?

David said...

John, it looks like Ancestry digitized whatever they happened to come across, thus the somewhat (rather) misleading claim that this database goes to 1980. It does, but only because of some exceptions, not the rule.

If they'd just focus on the bulk of the project (St. Louis) and rename it, a lot of people would be happy to have the St. Louis births. I am. But it's a little ridiculous as is.

And as you are well aware, there's no way Missouri is going to release birth certificates after 1910. They make too much money off of printing those copies, both at the state and local level. And as we all know, it's a huge security issue. Just look at all of the terrorists running around using identities from the 1910-1956 death certificate database... ;)

John said...

I'm less concerned with the obviously misleading claim for the database than with the birth certificates of individuals younger than me being available for perusal.

Considering the expense they went through to get the death certificates online, I don't think the money they are making from printing birth certificates is what's keeping them from releasing them. I think the issue of whether or not the individual is alive is of key concern. And the fact they aren't releasing them makes me wonder how Ancestry got them.

If the four certificates remain up at the end of the week, I'm going to see if I can track any of their whereabouts down, and let them know their birth certificate is online. If they don't mind, that's their decision.