Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Common Mistakes in 1940 U.S. Census Indexing

I listed the questions asked in 1940 United States Census Questions and the columns indexed by FamilySearch Indexing in What Columns of the 1940 U.S. Census Will be Indexed?

There is a 1940 U.S. Census Indexing Simulation available on the FamilySearch Indexing project site where you can practice your indexing with a somewhat typical sample (only 12 lines (instead of 40), with pretty readable handwriting).  

There is also a line on the "My Message" box on the Indexing site dated 7 March that says "'SIMULATION' 1940 U.S. Census - Most Common Mistakes." The line is highlighted in the screen below:

The information in this message says:

"The following instructions highlight some of the frequently observed mistakes in our initial 1940 census test. Other refinements to the instructions will be added as we study more results from the *SIMULATION* 1940 US Census.
  • When you index the residence fields, you should correct misspellings and expand abbreviations if you can do so accurately, but don't try to correct what may seem to be factual errors. For example, if "Oakland" was recorded as the city of residence and "Contra Costa" as the county (rather than Alameda), index Oakland in the city field and Contra Costa in the county field.
  • If "Same House," "Same Place," or "Rural" was recorded in census form column 17 (City, town, or village...), type what you see and use Ctrl+B to mark the county and state of residence fields (columns 18 and 19) blank.
  • If the census enumerator recorded a house number (census form column 2) but failed to also record the number of household (census form column 3) then use Ctrl+B to mark the number of household field blank.
  • If a relationship was recorded as "Wife-H" in column 8, do not index the -H; just type Wife in the Relationship field.
  • If the census enumerator listed multiple localities in column 15 (place of birth), index all localities as they are recorded separating them with a space (example: Wurttemberg, Germany should be recorded as Wurttemberg Germany).
  • If you see roman numerals used for a title or term (such as "V," for 5th), type what you see in the Titles and Terms field..
  • Each 1940 census form has 40 entry lines. If a census line on the census form is blank or has no data to be indexed, use Ctrl+Shift+B to mark the entire line blank. Be sure to mark the blank lines in the same order they appear on the census form."
If you are going to do 1940 U.S. Census Indexing, I urge you to read this list of Most Common Mistakes, and perhaps print them out, BEFORE you index the 1940 Census Simulation batch and before you do any indexing of the actual 1940 U.S. Census.  The fewer mistakes you make, the faster the census indexing project will be completed, which benefits all of us.

If you want to practice on some "real" handwriting, you might consider indexing on the 1871 U.K. England and Wales Census, or the World War I draft registration cards, or the Texas Death Records.  The 1871 UK Census is challenging not only because of the handwriting but also the place names are unfamiliar to me, and many of the county and towns use abbreviations.  However, it is the most "like" the 1940 U.S. Census indexing of the batches available for indexers.  I try to do one batch of the 1871 UK Census every night - it takes 15 to 30 minutes depending on the quality of the handwriting.  

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Donna Hansen Peterson said...

Thanks Randy. When I did a test batch, I didn't notice the common errors list and totally mis-keyed the 1935 place if residence. I did not key "Same House" in the city field but marked all 3 fields (city, county, state) as blank. I won't do that again