Sunday, April 8, 2012

1940 Census Indexing a Phenomenal Project

As of today the Oregon 1940 Census is 70% completed and we are unable to download any other data for indexing. Who would have imagined that this could be done in six days? Delaware is 100%, Kansas is 80% and Colorado is 85%, with no more downloads available for any of them. There are a total of seventeen States available at for browsing. At the present time thirteen states are available for indexing, with less than 5% completed for any of them except New Hampshire with 13%. I realize this may seem slow to some, but I can assure you this is phenomenal. I expect the current top three, after Delaware, will be finished sometime this week.

The beauty of this indexing project is that people who speak the language, know the places, and spellings of common names are doing it. There are a few names that throw us for a loop, but overall most are familiar. Two days ago I predicted that if one wanted to do the Oregon records they needed to get to it, and it would soon be too late. The next state that I plan to work on is Illinois, as I am also very familiar with the localities there. It does pay to have a good atlas nearby when the places may not be easily readable or identifiable. When I see the place typed out it becomes very recognizable. Other states of interest for me are Iowa, Nebraska, and Massachusetts.

My main question for myself is what is a reasonable amount of time to spend on this project. I am sure the people at hope we will all continue on as indexers for a long time to come. Right now I feel a little maxed out, but it has been a busy weekend. There are other projects, which I must devote time to and I am sure to not be the only one in this situation. How do we balance our time between the worthy causes and income producing work? There is a great sense of fulfillment in the participation thus far. In six days I was able to index 36 pages with a 94% accuracy rate. In the first few pages, I indexed five pages below 90% and then later 31 pages above 90%.

For now, I will not make any commitment beyond the 1940 Census. When it is finished it will be necessary to reassess and evaluate what time I can participate in the indexing. The enthusiasm for indexing by the genealogy community is very impressive. With the new map on one can follow the progress of the indexing. Later I would hope that they might share some information about the indexers and the process to complete this phenomenal project. Please consider becoming an indexer if you have not done so.

Reach out to others who are not genealogists to teach them the importance of these records. My brother in law has located several of my husband's family members and he does not do genealogy. After our Easter dinner today I provided a relative a copy of the page his family was on in Pennsylvania, and he has no interest in family history. Earlier in the week a reporter I have been working with expressed a new interest in doing genealogy and even found some of his family in the records. One motivation for this is to develop a strong interest in records access by more of the population to ensure future accessibility. Our efforts can be far reaching and will impact those who in generations to come wish to seek out their own family history.

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