Monday, November 23, 2009

Madness Monday - November 23, 2009

Participating in what many genealogy bloggers calls Madness Monday, is never a chore to come up with material on!

This week I was reminded of one of my "pet peeves" in performing research online. This week's newsletter has a tip from a reader that share her struggle in locating an ancestor in the 1870 Census records. That is, she struggled until she reversed the given and surnames. And suddenly, oila, the record came up. Sure enough, the person who had indexed the census had accidentally transposed the first and last name.

Ah....if only had a nickle for every transposed name on an index, or misspelled name on an index, or even parts of the name totally left out on an index! Well... you get my point, I'd have my piggy bank full of nickles by now, for sure!

I've only come across about a dozen census records in my more than 12 years of research that I could not decipher. I actually relish reading the handwriting of the 19th century census records. So, I am appalled at the number of transcriptionists who make blatant errors on indexing these records! It has been my understanding for years that many individuals actually transcribe these records, and then the greater number of matches among a single record becomes the printed index.

Well, let me tell you, there are quite a few indexes out there that need to be updated by someone who can read the written [cursive] word a bit better!!!

As most everyone knows, my main line of research follows my maiden name, Beane, or the older version, Bean. I have seen it indexed in so many outrageous fashions that it would be impossible to list them all! Blan, Boon, Baan, Bone, Been, Biin, and well, you get the idea!

Transposed names happen quite frequently as well. Especially in looking up my husband's family name. Henry. I suppose since most people associate the name Henry with a given name, it would be quite easy to transpose. Especially when the given name is also a name that is frequently used as a surname. Such is the case in one of my husband's ancestors, Lee. I have found three separate records for him listed under the transposed name of Henry Lee instead of Lee Henry.

It's quite plain to see why so many older genealogists and researchers prefer to leave the computer alone and stick with good old hands on approach to research!

That being said, while I do so enjoy visiting the court house, and county clerk's office and digging through musty books and records, and the absolute thrill of finding that single entry on a faded yellow page, I can't help but be thrilled when 7 or 8 days of flipping through those old registers and books is diminished to a mere 30-second wait when querying an online index, and the instant gratification of having a digital copy of the document on my computer in seconds, with a printed copy in my hand just 30-seconds later! Even so, when I become aggravated over a transposed or misspelled name, I find myself saying things like, "Give me a register in the county clerk's office any day over this!"

Ah.... of such is the things we must put up with in today's new genealogy quest!

And don't ya just love it?

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