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Volunteers are computerizing 1900 Census data in record time

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  • B Cole
    Sept. 13, 2007 8:21 a.m.

    The 1900 census as well as many other years, are already on Ancestry and Heritage Quest online. Why is the LDS doing this one again? Are they doing other the census years too? Sure, you must pay for Ancestry but Heritage Quest is free through the public libraries. The church recently added HQ at our Sandy Family History Center (I wonder about that, too?). To me doing the 1900 census doesn't make sense when they could be doing so many other records that haven't been done yet.

  • Mc
    Sept. 13, 2007 9:15 a.m.

    I've been an indexing volunteer for about six months and I really enjoy it. Anyone can sign up and get started. It usually doesn't take long to do a batch. I've done 1900 Census records from New York, Oregon, Vermont, NC, SC, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky. It's interesting to see the different demographics and family situations from around the country, as well as names from over a century ago. If you have some spare time while a baby naps or on a business trip, it's a great way to accomplish something good. Some friends of mine do it on their laptops while watching videos with their kids.

  • W. David Samuelsen
    Sept. 13, 2007 9:53 a.m.

    HQ's 1900 census is NOT every name indexed.

    The objective is FREE access. Ancestry wants you to fork up so much $ just to see the census.

    And 1900 census is not going to be only census. Already underway is Mecklenburg 1818 census (German) and in works are the other USA's censuses.

  • Amanuensis
    Sept. 13, 2007 12:10 p.m.

    Ancestry.com has FAR more data than just every-name indexes to every single federal census -- so much more data from so many states and countries that I consider it indispensible to anyone doing genealogy. You subscribe for the other databases and the censuses are "gravy" available to you at no additional cost. For those who cannot afford a subscription, many libraries make it avaible for free, including all Salt Lake County libraries and BYU.

    Thus, there was no need for the LDS Church to index what has already been indexed three times (the soundex cards being the first time, with HeritageQuest and Ancestry being the second and third time). That 18 months of wasted effort by the FamilySearch Indexing volunteers (of which I am one--it is my calling in my ward), could have been spent on indexing millions of names from records that no one has yet indexed, such as the Draper Manuscripts.

  • Nora Nell
    Sept. 14, 2007 7:28 a.m.

    I understand that the census records that were indexed by Ancestry were done in Asian countries. The people were paid to do it.
    In the case of Family Search by the LDS Church, the people doing it are those who have a deep interest in genealogy and helping others find their own families, even if they aren't LDS.

    Also, Ancestry charges for all their census records except the 1880 census, which the LDS Church did. The records the LDS people and friends are doing will be available either for free or at minimal cost.

  • Betty Wray
    Sept. 14, 2007 3:36 p.m.

    You can say what you want, but the Heritage Quest census records are not very good. If you've ever used it, you would know in a moment it doesn't compare to the census record on Ancestry. HQ is not an EVERY name index, the 1850 and 1930 are incomplete, and the whole thing is not very good to use. Ancestry.com is 100% better. If the church can get volunteers then good. In the interim, either one has to pay to use Ancestry.com at home or spend time at a public library.

  • K Farley
    Sept. 14, 2007 5:23 p.m.

    Ancestry was available through the LDS Family History Centers until last Spring. They (Ancestry) stopped offering access to it for free. So, this is one reason why the Church wants to make it free with the help of volunteers.

  • Wanda Castoe
    Sept. 14, 2007 6:12 p.m.

    I wonder also, why do this again? But it is addicitive. Since 31 Nov 2006 I have done almost 24,000 names from several states. I have several non member friends helping with this. I enjoy it so much. I would like to move on to court records, but what they have ready I will do.

  • Jonathan
    Sept. 14, 2007 7:36 p.m.

    Absolutely ridiculous waste of time to index the US Census records since they have already been indexed! There are MILLIONS of other records to be indexed. Does this mean they're going to do ALL the census records, both before and since 1900?? If so, that would end up taking like 15 years - just to get where Ancestry was 2 years ago. What a waste of everyone's time - just to save a few bucks? Also, it's not like volunteer Mormons will do a better indexing job than paid Asians, as was implied in the comment above. These will have many errors, just like any indexing project.

  • My comment
    Sept. 14, 2007 9:25 p.m.

    I am sorry that so many people find it necessary to make negative comments. I have had a subscription to Ancestry for many years and find it very useful. I have been an indexer for 3 months. This given me the chance to compare what I have indexed to the same census pages indexed on Ancestry. I was very surprised to discover very poor interpretation in many 1900 census records on Ancestry. Although it appears many are unhappy at the additional translation I am thankful for the opportunity it will give to have another set of eyes review the records and to access the information at no charge. Some people have limited or varied time to do their research preventing them from going to a library. The free access at home will enable a larger population to research with the records that will be available through the indexing program.

  • Vic
    Sept. 14, 2007 9:29 p.m.

    You folks are not catching the vision. The new indexing volunteers so far this year are the just the beginning of a massive work force that will be at work in the near future. We are "cutting our teeth" on a known entity in preparation for the great work ahead, that of digitizing granite mountain and all else that we are allowed to do. I'm sure that those who are administering the program are amazed and encouraged as the work progresses, even as a dew before the sun.

  • Cris Coleman
    Sept. 14, 2007 10:28 p.m.

    Instead of being grateful for an additional resource, as was pointed out by "My Comment", so that we can compare, if needed, with what has already been done, some choose to be negative. Negativity has no place in genealogy work. Be gone! Scat!

    The one thing that has not been mentioned is that in this new indexing, each record will have been indexed by two people, with a third, if the compared entries do not match 100 percent. I dare say that kind of quality control was not evidenced in the Ancestry and Heritage Quest censuses. Be glad for that.

    Meanwhile, let us enjoy the fact that shortly after indexed records are submitted to the LDS Church, they are prepared to go online at FamilyHistory.Org. How cool is that?

  • Margit, Texas
    Sept. 14, 2007 10:59 p.m.

    I was blessed to be one of the beta indexers, and have moved on to arbitration. I am now fortunate enough to work on German records and I can use all my knowledge and skills, including reading the old German script. The quality control with three people entering/comparing data is priceless. This program has been going on for more than two years, and few were aware of it. Through recent publications of articles the ranks of the volunteers has increased, and more and more records are entered online. It is up to you to use whatever method you want to search for your ancestors. No one is forcing you to use the free LDS church records.
    Negative comments are counterproductive and serve no purpose. Accept gracefully and with thanks what is offered with FamilyHistory.org.
    I have derived too many benefits from doing this work to question the huge blessing it has become.

  • Diana, California
    Sept. 15, 2007 2:52 a.m.

    I saw an article in the Ensign last month while working in the church library that asked for indexers. I was so excited about it, I couldn't wait to get home. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I have only been doing this for about 3 weeks but have already indexed 2000 names.

    When I first started indexing I was worried about making mistakes but was more confident when I learned that somebody else would do the same batches I am doing and differences would be looked at by an arbitrator.

    For added interest, I highly recommend that you look up the history offered for the 1900 era census. How interesting it is. I was wondering why I would run into patches of young widows and by reading about the times they lived in it gave me insight into what may have been the cause.

    I also have membership to Ancestry.com and have enjoyed it very much. It is getting way too pricey for me though and I will be greatful to have free or inexpensive access to this information.

    This indexing is great stuff, I am so glad I found this opportunity to be a part of it.

  • Lorna
    Sept. 15, 2007 3:37 a.m.

    Censuses are not the only records being indexed but they are a great training ground - common language, predictable format, minimal interpretation and major interest. I'm guessing that few first-timers would sign up to index indentures and judgments. Once you see how easy it is, you will find yourself hocked and excited about going on to other, harder records. As for the "great debate" - I have had an Ancestry subscription from the beginning and consider it well worth the money because I use it almost every day. I also use Heritage Quest regularly. As for why another indexing may be useful, try looking for Lewis Wells, born 1920 on the 1930 census for each. Then go to 1930 census for Utah, Utah, Vineyard, page 261, sheet 2a and compare what you see! (And where would you be without the alternative I submitted to Ancestry, who incidentally are glad to have others help make their informtion more usable and accurate.)

  • DEB FRYER
    Sept. 15, 2007 7:36 a.m.

    To all those critics of the indexing of the US Census records: Remember the criticism of the announcement of the Conference Center in Salt Lake? Now look at the outcome of that project!

    Nothing goes on in this Church without it first being discussed by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. They are advised from many sources before decisions to move forward are implemented. Therefore, let us reason together and get on with the job at hand. The time spent here could have been spent better on the Lord's work. I trust and follow the brethren

  • Lee Huff
    Sept. 15, 2007 8:49 a.m.

    I am so thankful for the previous posts. I also wondered "why duplicate?". Now I know. As a beta tester also, I have watched this process develop and grow. And become easier. When I began tracing my own ancestry 40-plus years ago, all was done so slowly. Now a person expects to type in a name and be rewarded with a complete family line! Wonderful! This project allows us to work minutes, or hours, at will, the only requirement being to follow instructions and guidelines. And the rewards in our own hearts are really worth the tiny efforts we must make. Better yet, no one is excluded from the effort. I'm happy to be a part of this work, and to better understand why it only appears we are duplicating. Thanks.

  • Dayna Nichols
    Sept. 15, 2007 9:14 a.m.

    I am so thankful to hear of this great work -
    My daughter began indexing when the program was presented in the Ensign article last month. What an opportunity for her to get involved with 2 small children, she has found an opportunity to give service while they nap. I am impressed with her example and want to do likewise. Maybe this small effort will also help people see how easy it is to get involved and get started with their own personal histories and even their family history. I understand more everyday that this work is an important key for all of us in our progression. I agree wtih all of the posts that have mentioned the negativity and hope that people will feel inspired and uplifted as they take this opportunity. I am going to encourage more to participate. Thanks for the wonderful reporting and opportunity to share.

  • Skip Hellewell
    Sept. 15, 2007 10:24 a.m.

    Nice to hear from all those ancestry.com stockholders. The truth is that while the Internet is characterized by the free sharing of knowledge--that is its real power--the folks at ancestry.com seem to have been caught up in their greed--their fees are too high and remind me of the monopoly the telephone company had for far too long, which greatly restricted innovation. Making the Census records freely available to all is a noble work, it is Wikipedia redux, and will have a profound influence on the study of family history. Go indexers!

  • Kath, Los Alamos
    Sept. 16, 2007 3:01 a.m.

    I am grateful for this program. I helped index through the card program, then data entry in the 90s (worked so much I got a macular hole -maybe it wasn't related; found a treatment to restore sight -I pray; it's getting ---better feel like Job). My sister did so much research before she died (just after my eye trouble). I have tried ever since to proof and add "pictures" of the evidence of our lineage - unsuccessfully. Once the church pulls together resources, I think I might be able to make progress at long last. THANKS to everyone for this work. I joined the church after my sister (oldest, previously mentioned) joined because of genealogy. (Our mom took Sunday classes - got in the habit of going each week; I took the discussions, but preferred the friendshipping at my Baptist church... still miss many of those traditions; but I learned the church is true and now walk by faith...) I have earned 2 masters degrees to prove I am capable of authoring our ancestry (all I'd seen were written by Ph.D.s ... ) yet all those projects have gotten in the way... and hopefully genealogy is again my priority project. I index when I stumped, or have just a couple "laid back" hours between projects. I am grateful to feel I am a part of the work. It is fabulous the response is so great. Ancestry seems like a great tool, but I never got any results when I tried at the FHC - and now that I am nearer to subscription time (its moved up in my to dos) - I have learned it has flaws - I am sure all projects will. But with the volunteerism of the church ...I am hopeful... just Thanks.

  • A. Fife
    Sept. 16, 2007 11:22 p.m.

    I live in California and signed up to be an indexer after reading about it in the Ensign. I have two small children and find this opportunity to be of service quite enjoyable. Even moreso because I would like to be able to use the information in it. I cannot afford a subscription to Ancestry.com. Hanging out at a Family History Center or Library with two very young children in tow is not an option. I am very grateful for any resources that allow me to work on my family history at home while my chilren nap or watch PBS. I also see the vision of the multitudes of indexers making records from around the world available for search on the internet. This is clearly only the beginning. There are all those records in the granite vault and all those ones still out there that people are being filmed.

  • Damaris Fish
    Sept. 17, 2007 11:16 a.m.

    I am grateful to have had the additional resources of Heritage Quest & Ancestry.com as I worked on the 1900 Census because there were things I had a hard time reading on the images of the pages. Being able to compare the different images (different quality, different camera/operator?) has been a help. Being able to index online, with the rest of the internet to consult with/search, has helped me too. More than once I have found descendants' posts of their genealogy to help me interpret what was written on the Census. It is fascinating work, and skill-building! I am grateful for the opportunity to put myself in the way of inspiration. In our family we have a Daniel whose name was extracted as David & so was overlooked for years. So I try to be careful, diligent, prayerful. I don't think I am alone in that!

  • Jon Rogers
    Sept. 23, 2007 9:17 a.m.

    When I heard about the Indexing program I thought it was very exciting and an indicator of where the Church is heading in Geneology and Temple work. I have felt the spirit of those I am working for and their help at times. This is just the beginning of a very wonderful time.

  • Betty Idaho
    Sept. 23, 2007 3:10 p.m.

    I have subscribed to Ancestry for the past 2 years, and have found it so interesting and helpful. Unfortunately, I have also found obvious typos when names were transcribed; they were really obvious mistakes! I trust LDS work more because it is always double or triple checked, free, and comes with "The Spirit." I am grateful for the volunteers and look forward to joining their ranks someday soon - after my carpal tunnel surgeries heal. Thank you LDS Church and non-member volunteers for your efforts!

  • Barbara Rogers
    Sept. 24, 2007 9:47 a.m.

    I have been doing the family indexing at home and I find it fun and interesting. I enjoy my spare time doing this work. It helps me to unwind after work and when I can't sleep. I am so happy to be a part of this great work. And I feel that it is something important and i can be a part of it from my home. I like setting the goals and meeting them or exceeding them, thanks for the opportunity to serve.

  • Linda S. Day
    Sept. 24, 2007 2:45 p.m.

    An awesome and miraculous undertaking to digiitize these precious records of our ancestors! After all, we need more than one source in some cases to verify that person is the person we are searching for. We have languished in our research of records that have been misinterpreted, or transcribed incorrectly, pictures that have no names or dates, of family data that is here say and guess work.! I love the new direction set forth by our inspired church leaders. May we experience the rewards of our family names being linked together through digitizing every record that is made available to us... Hurrah for Family History!... Hurrah for the genealogists! Hurrah for our ancestors who have waited for this time! This is a giant leap for Family History world wide!

  • T Allen
    Oct. 8, 2007 7:45 p.m.

    I just want to add that Ancestry does there indexing by a indexing reader not by physical reading and it makes more mistakes then a eye of a person. Also I indexed a page recently that I tried to search on Heritage Quest for and the page was so unreadable on HQ and none of the names where in the system so what The LDS church is doing is providing digital images that are clearer and then we are indexing them so that others can find there dead ends and mystries. Hurrah! I am so excited for this to happen the Lord has provided this oppurtunity, for technology to provide this for family history to move across the earth. It is the time to celebrate I know that God has made this possible to do our work for the dead to recognize there importance in history. It is a blessing and a gift. I can't explain it anybetter then that. It is a good idea and I don't understand why it has to be put down like some of these comments have done. I believe that you need to take the time and Pray about it 1st before Criticizing.