Saturday, March 08, 2008


I’ve been downloading census images from the
past few weeks after signing up for a monthly subscription
which I can now afford and have run across some errors
transcribers had made indexing them. I’ve cited one already
that was probably a result of unfamiliarity with a style of
penmanship, but last night I found one that is IMHO the
result of a sloppy census enumerator.

I’d found every census record for my great great grandfather
Jonathan Phelps West except for the one from 1910. When
I searched Ancestry, I got a listing for a “Johnathan P. Yuet”
with a marker for a possible alternate of “Johnathan P.
West” and when I looked at the image, I could understand
why the transcriber would have problems.

The page is a mess. But I'll stick to that part which concerns
my family.

To begin with, it looks like the ink faded on the line with the
family name so that the “West” is barely visible. The first
member of the family listed is “West, Louisa” which the
beleaguered transcriber translated into “Yuet, Paulina” but
the whole entry is faded and if I didn’t know anything about
Jonathan P.’s family I might not have been able to read that
line correctly myself.

Next comes “_______ Johnathan P.” and things really get
messy. The enumerator realized that he’d put the wife first
as Head of Household and sought to rectify the situation by
using a two-headed arrow to connect from “Husband” next
to Jonathan to the “Head” next to Louisa’s name, and a
smaller “wife” written in the upper corner of the box.

The third name in the household is my granduncle Clarence
who is correctly identified as “grandson”.

So that is why my great great grandfather is indexed as
“Johnathan P. Yuert” on the 1910 Federal Census for Upton,
Oxford County, Maine.

I’ve developed some sympathy for transcribers.

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