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Archiver > APG > 2001-06 > 0992886569

From: "David F. Reynolds (Genealogy List)" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] The 1900 census database at genealogy.com
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 17:49:29 -0000

I purchased an annual subscription to the genealogy.com 1900 census ($59.95
based on a special they e-mailed me) and ancestry.com's "library" ($99.95)
which among other things includes the complete 1790 & 1880 censuses, and
most of the 1900, 1910, and 1920. The remainder of the latter three, as well
as all of the other census years are promised for the future. The
ancestry.com census records are unindexed at this time, and indexing is
promised for the future as well.

The ancestry.com images appear to me to be to be unenhanced images of the
microfilm, i.e., the background is gray. The genealogy.com images have
clearly been computer enhanced by lightening the background to white. For a
image which was a good image to start with, this results in a very "pretty"
image which prints well. However, if the image had a dark spot on it, the
contrast between text and background was not as well-defined, and the
enhancement leaves the text either more difficult to read, or in some cases,
indecipherable. I've seen several pages where the names on the last few
lines of the page were indecipherable on the genealogy.com version, and very
dark, but readable, on the ancestry.com version.

I have had some good success at using the genealogy.com 1900 index to find
several people that I have previously been unable to locate. I have also ran
a number of names through where I already knew the location of the
people--and I could not locate roughly 15% of them using the index.

Wildcards are not supported and the only indexed field is the name field.
Boolean operators are also not supported. Searches are done either at the
nationwide level or at the statewide level.

The surname spelling must match *exactly*.

E.g., if I search Nebraska for "Meirose", "Henry Meirose" is found. If I
search for "Mirose", then "Clarn Mirose" [Clem Meirose] is found. If I
search for "Merise", "Frank Merise" [Frank Meirose] is found. And they are
three consecutive households on one page.

The "middle name" search field appears to be ignored. It doesn't seem to
influence the search results regardless of what is or isn't entered there.

The "first name" field is a little more flexible. The data pairs
Charles/Charlie, William/Bill, Robert/Bob are interchangeable, for example.
But they do not document which forms are interchangeable, so if a search
fails, one doesn't necessarily know which alternate forms to try.

And there does not appear to be any way to search for "Bob" and actually get
just the "Bob" entries, and not the "Robert" entries as well.

And other than nickname pairs which they have hardcoded in, the first names
must also match exactly. E.g., a search for "Benajmin LaMere" will fail, as
the entry is indexed as "Benjimane LaMere."

For the several cases I tried, people whose surname was different than that
of the head of household were indexed.

There is an unspecified limit as to the number of matches which are
returned. E.g., a nationwide search on surname "Meirose" works fine, and
returns all 16 entries. A nationwide search on "John Smith" returns the
error message "Too Many Matches".

The net effect is that for relatively uncommon surnames, where one can get
away with leaving the "first name" blank, it is comparatively easy to find
the desired entry. For more common surnames, where entering the first name
is a requisite, if the search on the "correct" spelling fails, one is left
with varying both name fields, attempting to second-guess whether one, or
the other, or both are creatively entered. Painful.

An annoyance with genealogy.com is that form that one always is presented by
default is the one which searches the entire site. I.e., if one is searching
for a series of names in a state, after each search the form that is
displayed on the page will search the entire site. One must use the browser
"back" button to get back to the state search page again. I presume this is
so they have maximum opportunity to advertise how many matches they have in
database one hasn't bought. The general feeling is that their site is poorly
designed and clumsy to navigate.

I found the ancestry.com site to be well laid out, and easy to navigate.

Both sites have been useful enough to me to where I do not regret spending
the money. However, until the searching capability is dramatically improved,
those folks with ready access to a full set of microfilm are probably better
off sticking with the film.

Dave Reynolds <> FAX: +1 707 988 0735
PO Box 2249, Portland OR 97208-2249 ICQ: 1187494

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