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Re: [S-R] Transcription errors and LSD records on line

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  • jenna-m
    Good point about who does the transcriptions, Julie. In  a very different context than Slovak World, I was working with a group of students last week who
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 21, 2009
      Good point about who does the transcriptions, Julie. In  a very different context than Slovak World, I was working with a group of students last week who volunteered time to type up transcriptions of oral history interviews. LOTS of mistakes not so much for lack of caring so much as lack of local knowledge.  Many peoples and street names for instance were mispelled as the students only wrote down what they heard, and what they heard was fitted into what they thought they knew or heard. People who then actually live in the neighborhoods volunteer their time to edit the transciptions as they do care about the place they live in, their ancestors, people who settled into and shaped the neighborhood, etc.
      May be similar to Ellis Island where although paid for their efforts, they often typed what they heard. This doesn't really address the complexity of name changes in processes of americanization of names or other more recent posts of adopting different surnames.

      --- On Sun, 9/20/09, Julie Michutka <jmm@...> wrote:

      From: Julie Michutka <jmm@...>
      Subject: Re: [S-R] Transcription errors and LSD records on line
      To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Sunday, September 20, 2009, 8:45 PM


      I might be reading your message wrong, but I get the impression that
      you are mixing apples and oranges just a little bit, the apples being
      the actual source document (eg the census record itself, or the
      photographic image on microfilm or on Ancestry's website; the
      passenger record or its image; etc), the oranges being the **indexes**
      provided by Ancestry.com, LDS, www.ellisislandreco rds.org (these
      indexes are NOT the product of the census bureau, the state or federal
      gov't, the shipping company, the church, etc, they are the product of
      volunteers or paid workers on behalf of Ancestry, Ellis Island, etc).

      The passenger record, the page of the census, the page from the church
      baptismal book (or a certified copy of the information extracted from
      that baptismal record book): these are the **sources** that you
      document, for which (ideally) you write a source citation / footnote.

      The indexes to any of these collections are **finding aids***, not
      sources. They are pointers to the sources / original documents.

      So you don't document an index, you document the original source. If
      the original source has the name misspelled, you do quote that. If
      the original source has the name correct but the **index** has it
      misspelled, you don't put that misspelling in the source citation or
      footnote. (You could add an explanatory note that Ancestry.com has
      the name misspelled in the index, if you expected your reader to need
      to know that for some reason.)

      For example, I had trouble finding my ancestress's brother John Voith
      in a particular census, even tho' I knew which township he was living
      in. I ended up hunting two different ways, and found him each way. I
      searched the source, the census images, line by line for the township
      and finally found him as "John Foit." My source citation will cite
      him under that name; I'll append a note explaining why I think it's
      the right guy in spite of the difference in surname, eg follows his
      sister in the census and I know from plat maps that their properties
      adjoined, etc. I also did a creative search of the Ancestry indexes,
      searching that township in that county in that census year for every
      John whose birthplace was Bavaria; and I found him indexed as "John
      Fort," the indexer having misread the misspelling of the census
      taker. "John Fort" will NOT appear in my source citation. I probably
      won't even add a note following the citation that he is mis-indexed in
      Ancestry.com. (I will, however, mention in my own private research
      notes for this individual that "his name is incorrectly indexed on the
      Ancestry.com site as John Fort in the 18xx census." And I'll note
      that I submitted a correction on thus-and-such a date.)

      For more information that you probably want to know about sources and
      properly citing them, see the mighty tome _Evidence Explained: Citing
      History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace_ by Elizabeth Shown
      Mills; or the much more concise and far more affordable laminated 4
      pages of examples: _Citing Ancestry.com Databases & Images
      Quicksheet_ by Elizabeth Shown Mills and _Quicksheet Citing Online
      Historical Resources_ by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Genealogical citation
      standards are based on the Chicago Manual of Style. Properly (some of
      us would say, painfully) done citations not only tell your reader
      where to find the source of your information, but give info to assist
      the reader (and yourself) in evaluating that source, eg a
      transcription of an original record (if you can't see the original
      record itself or its image) is sourced a bit differently than the
      original record itself, reflecting that it is one more time removed
      from the actual event it describes, and therefore more prone to
      errors, etc.

      Julie Michutka
      jmm@pathbridge. net

      On Sep 20, 2009, at 9:37 AM, nilo3rak wrote:

      > The bane of searching indexed records, for me, has been
      > transcription errors. I have had to use lots of creative analogous
      > thinking, hunches, and plain old dog-work as I perused the records
      > to find an ancestor.
      > Diligently, I always sent in corrections to Ellis Island's data
      > base. However, The LSD records do not show these name, number, or
      > place changes; rather, they are replete with the old erroneous
      > spellings and other errors.
      > What to do? How to document? I always list the source and then
      > verbatim quote the erroneous information. Those who wish to
      > investigate original sources at a later time will then be able to
      > find them.
      > I have my own thoughts on why there are so many errors in census,
      > legal documents such death, marriage records, and so on. The
      > officials, the transcribers, or the recording clerks did not know
      > the language, the geography, and did not care to learn to ensure
      > accurate records. They weren't careful. They didn't think it and
      > these foreign people mattered. They just didn't know that 50 to a
      > few hundred years later it would matter very much to searching
      > descendants.
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