Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Indexing, not as easy at it looks

From a comment to a recent blog post about the FamilySearch Indexing project to index the 1940 U.S. Census, one commentator said it is not as easy as it looks. Well, it doesn't really look too easy to me. I have spent a inordinate amount of time deciphering U.S. Census pages. I cannot believe that the handwriting in the 1940 U.S. Census is going to be any better than the average I have dealt with over the years. In other words, reading the Census will be just a hard as usual.

I find it interesting that FamilySearch is enlisting the help of thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of teenagers to help index the Census. How many of these prospective indexers can even read cursive? I have found many teenagers who can't. By the way, how much of the Census is in handwriting? I would guess that all of the pertinent information is handwritten, so there will be a problem. How many of you out there have done Indexing? Ever had a problem reading an entry? Of course, you have.

Giving teenagers or anyone else a few hours of instruction on how to do Indexing will not address the issue of trying to decipher the enumerator's handwriting, much less the handwriting of the more detailed responses written by the average citizen in their own handwriting.

I am not a naysayer. I am extremely enthusiastic about the project. But I would like it to succeed. How many of the instant gratification age will become soured on genealogy because of the difficulty in deciphering handwriting?

By the way, here is the introductory video for the Census Project:

1 comment:

  1. I am thinking that the people who have never been taught to read cursive it will be like those of us trying to read the old style German scripts.

    Impossible unless you have take a how to class.