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Transcribers' Questions and Answers

Q: What should I do if the pages are numbered in correct order, do I still use A and B?

A: Some Censuses will NOT have A and B pages, if your pages are stamped as 55, 56, 57, 58, and there are no unstamped pages in between, then you will NOT use A and B. If you have access to a State/Year Index, check it to see how they are numbered in it too.

Q: My first page has no number, but the 2nd page does, what do I enter for the first page?

A: Three options. (1.) If you have access to a State/Year Index, check it to see what page the individuals are listed for; (2.) If using a SK Publication book, look in the back in the Index to see what page it shows them listed on; (3.) Look at the other following pages and follow the numbering pattern. (pg. 2 is 300, pg. 3 is pg. 301, pg. 4 is 302, so pg. 1 would be pg. 299, OR, pg. 2 is 300, pg. 3 is unnumbered, pg. 4 is 301, so page 3 would be 301b and page 1 would be 299b)

Q: When do I start sending in my files?

A: Get in contact with your proofreader and find how how many files they want to review at a time, it can be the whole thing, half of it, or only 100-200 records at a time, whatever is comfortable for you and your proofreader. If the census is small, wait until you are completely finished with it before emailing it to the proper person.

Q: Where can I get Blank Federal Census Forms?

A: If you are near a FHC (Family History Center), they have copies of the census pages that you can get there. Sue Soden from the IAGenWeb has made some blank Census Forms that you can print out, they include ALL columns.

Q: Is it okay to use the ditto marks?

A: NO! If your census has ditto marks on it, please enter the number, word, or surname that the ditto mark stands for.

Q: Do I have to enter line numbers too??

A: Even though many early censuses do not have line numbers, we want to number them. It helps when looking at the actual census to know how many to count down to, to find that person on that page of the census. Number each page with line numbers, starting the line numbers over with each page.

Q: I've just finished my first township. Do I need a proofreader now or do I wait until I have all of the census typed in?

A: This is up to you and your proofreader. They can start proofreading the part you have finished or you can wait until you have more done, or until you are completely finished. If your census is large, you will most definitely want the proofreader to start proofreading early, such as by township.

Q: If I can get it proofread as I go along, and have an S-K Publications book should I plan to take the book apart to sent to the proofreader? I'm afraid that the pages could get out of order or lost.

A: Again, this is something that you and your proofreader will have to decide on. An option that was mentioned when taking the book apart was to go through and number every page so that if they get mixed up, it will be easy to put them back in order.

Q: Where can I view the original Paper Copies of the Census?

A: Copies of the Federal Census do not exist up to about 1940. After they were put on microfilm, the copies were destroyed. Later that we found that the quality control was poor. For the 1850-1880 censuses, two copies were made. The original stayed in the county. One of the copies was sent to the state for storage and the other copy was made from the first copy, (not the original) and was sent to the Fed's. The films we see today are most often made from the second copy, which explains why there are so many errors. When compared with the few cases of known originals to the Fed copy, the errors were horrible, names were misspelled or abbreviated, or completely changed and many other changes throughout the documents.

Q: Is there a guideline so that I will know if I am being too slow with transcribing the census records?

A: There is no "set" guideline. Each person is different. Length of time varies on the size of your census, typing speed, how easily your census can be read, etc... Many transcribers enter data for 2 or 3 hours a day or over the course of a day. If you are going to set yourself a time limit of 2 hours at a time, take a break at least once a hour to help prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries. If you find yourself having to correct mistakes often, take a break away from the computer.

Q: Are there plans to transcribe the Census Information for the 1930-1990 Census?

A: They are not released to the public until 70 years after they were taken. Then it takes about two more years to get the information into book form and out to the public. You can contact the Census Bureau for information on your family for the years of 1930-1990. Census Info

Q: What if there is nothing on a line?

A: Leave it blank. Make a note in the remarks field that line # XX was left blank.

Q: How can we make a backup copy?

A: It is a good idea to make a backup of what you have just finished typing in before closing or shutting it down. You never know when something will go wrong and no one wants to re-enter information they have just spent days entering. Do a "Save As" and save it to a disc or to another location on your computer.

Q: There is more than one last name in my households, how do I handle that?

A: Enter the last names as they appear. They could have been relatives, friends, neighbors, or just simply boarders living in the same household, but their last names do need to be included. Sometimes the enumerator didn't always note it, but what you may have is a hotel or boarding house.

Q: What do I do if I "know" the man should have an occupation but nothing is written in?

A: Leave the occupation field blank and make a note that there was no occupation listed.

Q: How do we know when we have completed a township?

A: After the first several census years were taken the newer census (preprinted) forms had at the top of the page a blank line for the enumerator to write in the name of the township/borough/district/parish, followed by the county and the state. When the name on that line changes, you are in a new section. Some enumerators summarized the end of a section with a small paragraph, or sometimes they totaled up the number of men and women in their district, and some did nothing more than stop and start with a new section. Sometimes, you will find that each district/section had a different enumerator too.

Q: What will a HTML page look like if I use CART?

A: Take a peek at this SAMPLE.

Q: With CART, do I have to use the mouse to move the cursor from one field to another?

A: No, you may hit tab or enter after each line, you do not have to move your cursor with the mouse. One transcriber said that she placed her mouse cursor on the "add" button and all she had to do was type, hit enter, and then when she was ready, she clicked on the mouse button and it went like clockwork. Also, Control-A will ADD a new record if you don't want to bother with the mouse.

Q: How do I delete a file from CART?

A: Click on Census Abstract, then click on delete. Now highlight the file that you do not want anymore, click OK, click YES, click OK. Repeat for each file. Make double sure before deleting. Once deleted it's gone.

Q: Can I do anything with my transcription of the Census now that it is completed and proofread?

A: AFTER posting a copy on The USGenWeb Census Project Archives, you can: Send a copy to that County's USGenWeb Page; Keep a copy for yourself and offer to do lookups for those that do not have internet access: Print out a copy for the Local Genealogy Society; Print and donate a copy to the County Library; Publish the transcription: Permit your local Genealogy Society to publish it; or whatever else you may think of.

Q: I know the city and state but I don't know the county, help!

A: Go to: The U.S. Census Bureau Gazetteer or U.S. Geological Survey to find the county.

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