Updated 11 May 2003

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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1881 Census Transcribing

Ann Hunt from Shetland puts in "a defence of those transcribers who did the 1881". Thanks Ann

From:  Ann Hunt (ann.hunt4@ntlworld.com)
Subject:  [DBY] 1881 Census Recheck 
Date:  Sun, 11 May 2003 09:19:55 +0100 
To:  (DERBYSGEN-L@rootsweb.com)  

Hello John and List

Just a word in defence of the transcribers of the 1881 census - I am
currently involved in the FreeCens project and doing some transcriptions for
Northern Staffs and it can be a nightmare reading some of the writing. The
enumerators used their "best" handwriting with loops and whirls and fancy
bits, sometimes up into the line above and the line below. I have sat and
stared at a word for ages - tried to work out the letters referring to those
words I am confident about - and coming up with utter rubbish! So I leave
it for a while and go back - and see something completely different reading
the second time around. What makes things worse is somebody has used what
looks like a thick felt tip pen (not invented then I know!) to cross out
various parts of the line, completely obliterating several letters that lie
underneath. In the end I have to put in a best guess with a query for the
person who is going to do the checking. I am particularly careful with
surnames and places of birth but I know I must have made mistakes,
especially with one enumerator who sometimes doesn't cross t's and the
upright is a loop - could be an "el" or a "t".

It always says check back to the original - and my advice is you can't
find your relative look under R if you are looking for a B and vice versa,
or even K! And M and H often look alike on the original, so do K and H.
And when the enumerator was running out of space he squashed up his writing,
but using a thick nibbed pen meant that the middles of the words fill in so
a, o and e can all look alike.

I know you know all this John, but I read so much criticism of
transcriptions from the originals that I felt I just had to make something
of a defence of those transcribers who did the 1881.

Ann Hunt, on the island of Sanday where today the sun is shining, skies are
clear and blue, the sea is calm and sparkling and oystercatchers are feeding
in the garden.

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