This could also be filed under: When in Doubt, Read the Instructions.
While I don’t use them all that much, I’ve always found the World War II Draft Registration Cards (freely accessible on FamilySearch or through a subscription on Ancestry) to be an interesting collection. They come from the “Old Man’s Draft” — that is, the registration of American men who were between 45 and 64-years old in 1942.
The cards are microfilmed so that a front and a back appear in one image. One side includes information like place of residence, place of birth, and name of employer, while the other offers physical descriptions of the registrants. In the past, I’d noticed that the data didn’t quite seem to match between the fronts and backs, but my research had always been so casual that I didn’t think to investigate the inconsistencies.
Recently, I happened to notice that the database had been updated on Ancestry. While scrolling down through its “About” section, I found this information on the images for Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia:
These four states were microfilmed at the National Archives in such a way that the back of one person’s draft card appears in the same image as the front of the next individual’s card. Thus, when viewing the scanned image of each person’s original draft card you will see the correct front side of each person’s draft card, but the back side of the previous person’s card.
Thus, the reason why the description of my great-grandfather didn’t sound right was because I was looking at the back of the wrong card. I should have clicked forward one image. Whoops.
The gist of this not-so-quick Quick Tip: Read any notes attached to the databases you’re using. Ask more experienced researchers about the quirks of certain collections. If something doesn’t seem quite right, do what you do best and investigate!