SOG-UK-L ArchivesArchiver > SOG-UK > 2002-09 > 1031352067
From: John V Addis-Smith <>
Subject: Re: [SoG] Checking 1901 census
Date: Fri, 06 Sep 2002 23:41:07 +0100
References: <OE139HrxNKaH4PeGSBk00045b9e@hotmail.com> <20020906091233.E357036EFF@zorg.st.net.au>
On Fri, 06 Sep 2002 17:37:35 +1000, "Tom Perrett" <>
>Closing, an index is ONLY a finding aid, 100% accuracy
>is not mandatory.
I broadly agree with this statement. However if the inaccuracy of
the index leads to the wrong base data there may be consequences. In
the PRO's case this would mean that, as their policy says, they would
have to refund the relevant charges they had made to the searcher . .
However, I agree that an index does NOT have to be solely constructed
of terms that occur in the base data, particularly if that base data
happens to be incorrect or unusual as regards spelling or omission.
This a point that the PRO and QinetiQ have not taken on board yet.
If the enumerator has used an unusual spelling, or omitted a character
(say the sex of an individual) or word, then while the transcript
should probably reflect this, if the spelling can be standardised and
the omission ascertained with a high degree of probability, these
terms should be added to the index, leaving the original terms in the
index too in case the interpretation made at this stage is wrong. If
this process is carefully controlled so that incorrect interpretations
are minimised, then in my opinion the cost to the PRO of having to
refund some charges (where such interpretations are considered to have
been incorrect and have led to finding the wrong base data) is far
outwayed by the benefits of having a vastly improved search system.
The point is that the purpose of an index is primarily (solely in the
case of the 1901 census), as a finding aid and anything which improves
its success rate should be incorporated.
I am afraid that such additions to the 1901 indexes may cost more than
QinetiQ will be prepared to spend, given the additional cost they have
incurred in sorting out their flawed online system. At the very least
such methods should be used with the remaining censuses.
John V Addis-Smith
Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, England