Thursday, May 24, 2012

A new project for me

I've been getting a bit bored with so much time on my hands and so little interest in doing anything really active, so I've found a new pastime: helping index the recently released 1940 census. As you might suspect, this involves reading what's on the hand-written pages then entering that information into a database form. I've done 5 or 6 pages thus far, and I must tell you that I have a new-found respect for the people in past years who have transcribed various censuses, many of which I have made good use of.

As a researcher, I'm well aware of how difficult it often is to read the handwriting on the original forms, but when you're looking for a specific name, it's a little easier to decipher sometimes. Here, because I feel an obligation to other researchers to get it right, and I struggle to do so, but sometimes it's pure guesswork. Fortunately, the pages where I have to guess get sent off to be reviewed by someone else, who may or may not have more luck reading the written word.

And, to top it off, the last page and a half I transcribed had the pink 'cursor' off kilter -- traveling a line above the one I was supposed to be entering, thus forcing me to be even more careful to get the right info off the right line. And yes, I'm sure the cursor was on the wrong lines. On the last page I did, it began with 'line 1' actually highlighting the printed column headers rather than the first line of data, and I made certain that the line numbers I was entering corresponded with the line numbers on the form. I opted to stop for the time being in the hopes that next time I login they will have this issue fixed.

Want to help? Click here and then click 'get started'. You download the software, sign up for an account, and get going. I found it interesting that this begins with the official 1940 census page, but when you want to pull up the first batch to work with, their 'priority' projects have nothing to do with the census. You need to select 'see all projects' in order to get to a larger list that does include unfinished portions of this census. I opted to work in Georgia, for my fellow locals. I'm guessing the 'FamilySearch' group is actually the LDS Church, which is fine by me. The information will be distributed to other genealogy centers.

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