Monday, May 10, 2010

The Importance of NOT Correcting

One of the criticisms I have of Ancestry.com is how it handles user "corrections." If the handwriting of a census entry is clear and legible and has been transcribed correctly, there is no error in the index or the transcription. If the census taker made a mistake or used the "wrong" spelling of the last name, that's not the fault of the indexer. Those comments should be listed as alternate spellings, not "corrections." Corrections should be things where the transcriber or indexer misread as a "T" what is clearly an "F" or something of that ilk.

In issue 42 we'll see that there's a line in the census that is obviously "wrong" even though the handwriting is clear. Our job as transcriptionist is to copy exactly. Our job as genealogist is to perform the analysis and determine, as best we can, whether the information is likely correct or not and what it tells us about the people in the record.

Issue 42 started out to be just analyzing two men with the same name two pages apart in an 1880 census enumeration and now it seems to be growing. It will have to stop growing pretty soon though as deadlines wait for no one!


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