Now that I have recovered from the inevitable post-semester exhaustion, I hope to post more information to this blog.
I have been very fortunate that I have been able to index (transcribe) records for Family Search. As of right now, my statistics there are 2693 names and information transcribed. I started this as a way to give back to the genealogical community. Now, I have also found out that I am learning a lot as well. Below are some projects I have been able to work on and my observations.
1940s Draft cards for the state of Texas for men born before 1897 – For the most part, I have transcribed first name, middle name, last name, town, county, state, birthdate. This became very routine until two occurrences – 1. I got a card with a giant ink blot in the center yet I was able to blow up the image and still see the name of the person under the ink, and 2. I once downloaded a batch that also showed the other side of the card where height, weight, and vital statistics were recorded.
Census records from 1910 – these are the most interesting and also the most difficult records to index. They run the gamut from very neat and easy to read to very sloppy and nearly impossible to read. They also contain many foreign names that are hard to identify (fortunately there is a help box that can help with some names, but doesn’t always help). One interesting finding on a recent census form was comprised entirely of Jewish, Irish, and Black (not all originating in Africa, some from islands) people. I wondered, was this a slum? I know from many history lessons that the Irish were considered lower beings. I’m sure that, unfortunately, Black people were considered lower beings. Were Jewish people also looked at this way? Indexing records make me want to learn so much more about history and what our forefathers had to bear. One other interesting thing is that the record for each person gives, not only the place of birth of the person, but also the place of birth for that person’s parents.
Finally, the most important thing is that indexing reminds me that those who index historical records are human, as were the census takers. What this means to all of us who are involved in genealogical research is, even when you find transcribed information for an individual, be sure to look at the actual record yourself – you may be surprised at what you see there.
Indexing is very addictive as I watch my stats climb. But also, I feel like I’m doing something good for someone who will, in the future, be searching for the ancestors whose names I am transcribing.