Thursday, April 26, 2012

Indexing Insights - Helping to Make the 1940 US Census Searchable by Name

So far I've indexed 16 batches of 1940 Census pages. Not much, I know, but I was out of town all of last week at a conference (more on that in later posts), and I work full time 30 miles from my home.  I am still looking for my husband's father (in Corpus Christi, Texas), a paternal great-grandfather (in Cook County, Illinois), and a maternal great-grandmother (somewhere in Louisiana), so those are the states I've been working on.

Last night I was excited to find Illinois indexing still in Cook County, but specifically in Evanston (where I was born and where much of my family is from)!  This is where my dad says that great-grandfather was living in 1940.  It was fun to come across two streets I was familiar with: 
One is Sherman Avenue (above).  This is from the 1700 block, near the intersection with Clark.  My great-grandfather, John Pape, lived at 1043 Sherman, near the intersection with Greenleaf, from at least 1882 through at least 1920.  His brother Anton Pape (and later Anton's widow Kate) lived a block north at 1131 Sherman, near the intersection with Crain, from at least 1889 through at least 1920.

The other was Central Street (below).  My grandparents, Paul and Elizabeth Massmann Pape, lived on Hastings at Central in the 1960s.  This is a few blocks away, near the intersection with Hurd:
It was interesting to me how both of these areas had immigrants from everywhere - Belgium, Russia, England and Sweden are visible in the page snippets shown here.  Sherman Avenue, in particular, still held many working class immigrants' homes in 1940, just as it did in the 1880s when my great-grandfather came here from Germany.

Another indexing insight:  how difficult transcription can be!  The two samples above are pretty readable, but the arbitrator did not always agree with my interpretations of the handwriting.  Even printing, which I prefer (both to read and to write myself), was open to misinterpretations (is that Nethercot or Wethercot?):

What I really love about indexing is the freedom to choose the state or states you want to work in.  It's fun to run across places you are already familiar with (if only from your research)!

You can see a little bit of what indexing looks like from the first two images in this post.  It's really very easy!  To make the 1940 Census searchable by name, the 1940 Census Community Project  needs all the volunteer indexers it can get.  Click the link to find out how you can help.  There are even contests you can enter at the project's blog.

Don't let indexing scare you!  Every page of the census is transcribed by two volunteers, and reviewed by yet another, called an arbitrator. You can review a page after it's arbitrated and learn from your mistakes.  Sometimes it's not a mistake, just a difference in interpretation of the handwriting, and arbitrators are often more experienced in reading this than less-experienced indexers like me.

© Amanda Pape - 2012 - click here to e-mail me.

[Disclosure:  As part of Ambassador Program, this post enters me into a drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire.]

No comments:

Post a Comment