I will be re-blogging a post in a little bit that reinforces this concept.
Here are some examples I have run across:
A friend saw an ancestor’s maiden name transcribed as Ruhr on Ancestry, but when he pulled up the image, it was clearly Unknown. In my case, I couldn’t find a great-grandmother on Ancestry in the 1940 census. I looked at FamilySearch and found my father, once I had the page number with my great grandmother’s name transcribed correctly, I went back to Ancestry and noticed it had been mistranscribed Swiford. I added a note with the correct spelling.
The 1940 census taught me to compare between the different genealogy companies who were transcribing the records as there were frequent cases where some companies would come up with the same mistranscription, but usually at least one would get it right. After realizing that, I went back to earlier census comparisons to see if names were different. In some cases, the name would be the same because the enumerator wrote it down wrong. In other cases, a transcriber made the mistake when adding it to a genealogy website.
On my mother’s marriage record, I noticed the county website had her under the wrong maiden name, King. Back then, Mom had great cursive writing, but somehow the county missed the letter that was plainly there. It also explains why the newspaper used King in the legal notice section. Both places added an e to my father’s first name, but I used to seeing it that way which is how I found their marriage license transcript on the county website. Maybe they were trying to make up for losing a letter in Mom’s first name.
In census records for my mother’s patrilneal line, the surname has been butchered so many times it’s amazing. It could be a witness giving the wrong name or the enumerator have hearing issues worse than mine, be it the witness or an actual household member providing the information.