This week we have completed 7 more 1871 pieces plus 3 1881. They should all be online soon. The number of 1851 parishes being worked on has fallen to about a dozen. Shouldn't be long now. The February rebuild of Free Census showed that we have completed and uploaded 1,500,741 returns.
At the moment there are ten people checking 1881 returns and it is this project that is the subject of this newsletter. This transcription was given to us and is not in the FC format. It has to be reformatted before it will go into the FC checking software. The transcription is a good one and most of the problems in checking stem from the reformatting that has had to be done.
Schedule numbers and page breaks are inserted arbitrarily because there are none in the transcription. Often, where a page break comes in the middle of a schedule, the change is not being noted. Checkers must check the header detail for every household and keep an eye open for changes during a schedule. There is also a problem with lodgers. Enumerators should have treated them as a separate household. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't. Even where the enumerator got it right, the non-FC transcribers frequently ignored the separation of landlord's family and any lodger.
The transcription does not include the uninhabited dwellings and public buildings. Free Census requires they be inserted. This involves inserting a new record. The header detail of this new record will reflect the previous household unless the checker changes it. Ths comment also applies to volunteers checking the other years.
The occupational field in the donated transcription is more generous than FC allows. During reformatting the occupational data is often split and part of it is dumped in the notes field. Checkers cannot edit the transcriber notes field, but they can tidy up the occupational field. By the use of judicious abbreviations you can get the information into the limited space available. If you are uncertain of what is allowed, browse the existing returns on our web site. Our aim should be to produce something that is correct, makes sense - and looks nice!
We have now completed the 41, 61 & 91 returns; the 51 is almost complete and about 60% of the 1871 is done. More & more work is going to be 1881. I have just spent 3 days validating a single 1881 piece!
Finally, a reminder that we are transcribing "as is". It doesn't matter if the Enumerator is wrong - we want to record his words. Place names, surnames, relationships - it doesn't matter - get down what he wrote. Leave notes if it will help. If I don't think researchers will understand our finished work, I will write a note for them.
All in all, things are going well. Another couple of years and I can retire and grow cabbages. Or something.