TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2011-01 > 1294795442
From: Pierce Reid <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] "Conclusions"
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 17:24:02 -0800 (PST)
Census forms and other hand-written documents only show wriggly lines. If the wriggly lines follow the cursive writing style we were taught, or we have leaned how to read, we generally come the correct conclusion as to what the census transcriber was trying to write. We probably could also come to the conclusion as to what the person in the household told the census taker.
In many cases, though, it takes at least some guess-work to come to the "correct" conclusion. It may be that common words or names were used, but were not written clearly. Ancestry's transcriber may be more familiar with the local place name or occupations than you are and might come to a better conclusion than you would on your own. (For that reason, I save the transcription data as well as the census image.) On the other hand, you may know what a name should be, and can see that the wriggly lines could be the census taker's attempt to write the correct name, although Ancestry's transcriber may have guessed that the wriggly lines said something else. (In that case, my citation detail describes how Ancestry has recorded the text.)
The census taker may also have used an abbreviation that the family never used. How many families call their son James "Jas", although that may be the abbreviation used by the census taker, to save writing a couple of letters. If so, should that be a name variation that you enter into your database?
Everything we put into our database, possibly with the exceptions of exhibits, are conclusion we make. We just have to have it make sense based on all the information we have about the family.