Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Really - it's quite easy!

The task we have set ourselves is really quite simple. We just have to transcribe as accurately as we can the words of the Enumerator.

Of course, it is all made more complicated by the requirements of Free Census, and indeed, by those of the author of this blog.

Still, in the end, it is pretty simple. Transcribe the words of the Enumerator, warts and all, into the spreadsheet. If he misspells Scholar, then so do you. If he has a 19-year old Scholar, then you will have to input (Scholar), but his words are intact.

I find that the biggest aid I have is Google (or the search engine of your choice). If the Enumerator has written down a place name unknown to the Free Census software, or me, I usually type it into Google. Of course, knowing the correct version doesn’t mean that I don’t type in the Enumerator’s version. But just knowing that there is a “real” place spelt somewhat differently is an aid to reading the words on the page.

I also use Google for personal names and occupations. Google will search our online texts; in fact we often figure in the first ten hits it reports. So, if we have already transcribed a person, or an occupation, or a place, then it will come up. There are, of course, other aids. The IGI is online for free. You can confine your search to the parish you are working on. If you are working on a Cornish piece, you can use the COCP search engine. You can browse our online texts, the enumerators often used the same route for each census, and English and Cornish place names have remained the same for centuries.

It also helps if you read what you are writing. The numbers of times I find miss-transcriptions, when the transcriber or checker has got it correct only a page or so earlier.

Finally, you have one aid I don’t have. ME! I am quite happy for people to write to me and I will take a look at the image for you and give a second opinion. I can also download an image from Ancestry and email it to you. We also have an instant messaging system up and running. Instructions on how to access that can be given and are also on this blog. You might get an answer in minutes using either of these methods. I would rather correct things as you do them than have to do them in the final stages.

The picture at at the top was sent in by a volunteer living in Tasmania - it illustrates that she has other interests than my wretched census returns!!!!

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