Remember to use common sense

+23 votes

With the focus on records for sources and the "db_errors found", I see a lot of changes made that if the person just stepped back from the "facts" and do a quick "does this make sense" check, they would see their error.   The excitement of fixing a profile, or finding a source sometimes is a "rush" and we forget to just "THINK".

My example is "United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch( : 30 December 2015), Joseph Muhs in entry for Rutha Stom, 1860.

I just don't think that Jermany is a place......LOL

in Genealogy Help by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (711k points)
Clearly, Thomas H Corbett (the census taker) either doesn't know how to spell Germany, or his cursive capital G's look a lot like his cursive capital J's (which they kinda do).

So, then the question is...was the record machine generated from OCR? Or did someone actually transcribe the record.

It looks to me like it was machine generated
Comparing Jermany with July, I'd say he can't spell.
@ Martin....good eye, and that is what I am talking about....looking at the whole picture.   So, if he couldn't spell Germany....what else did he spell incorrectly?!?!?
This is one of those things I come across frequently. The trouble is that transcribers are always told to write what they see and mostly they don't know the places. But when I know a place well I never follow their spelling in anything I do.

As you say - common sense.
I see so many transcription mistakes on Census records that I ALWAYS look at the actual record.  Reading some of the handwriting can be a real challenge!  And then there are spelling differences for the same individual from census to census.  Still, I LOVE reading census many big families in my lines!  I love following them from census to census and seeing who's still at home, who's gotten married, who can read and write and realizing things we take for granted today were not always the norm.

1 Answer

+11 votes
When it comes to census mistakes, a lot of them are actually the fault of the transcriber.  And the best way to look for them is to compare the questionable spelling with the spelling of more clear words to see how the writer formed his letters.  There's a "Daniel" Evans in the 1790 census for Washington County, Pennsylvania, which when you look at the spelling of other words you can see it's really a David Evans.  I figured it out only by looking at the neighbors on the page which matched those of my known David Evans.  I'd assumed it was a mistake by the census taker until I looked it again and that was just the way the census taker made his letters, so it was a transcription error although one I don't really blame the transcriber for since might have made the same mistake.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (408k points)

The Daniel/David issue sure rings a bell! I have quite a few that are virtually indistinguishable, especially in NY census records from 1790 to 1860 or so. 

There seem to be many more Daniels than Davids, at least at the beginning of the time period. (Perhaps the people who remained in what became the US preferred prophets to kings?) 

Almost every lower-case d had quite a flourish at the end, but lower-case l's did not. In one case, it took me quite a while even to recognize one writer's d  as being a d. It seemed to be written almost sideways or off the baseline compared to today's handwriting style. (Maybe what I saw was shorthand. This was on the original 1850 census kept in the county courthouse, not the nicely recopied version submitted to the NARA.)

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