So many 1940 census images and so many indexers but according to FamilySearch – not enough arbitrators. I read blog posts and information about arbitration and decided I had indexed quite a bit and remained consistent at 97%-98% accurate so I dipped my toes in the water and requested to be considered as an arbitrator. Apparently, they are really desperate because I received the “right to arbitrate” about 2 hours later!
When I started to arbitrate indexed census images, it looked as if Indiana was on the brink of being “searchable” (that was an erroneous perception it turns out) so I started with that state as I had plenty of collateral relatives there. Didn’t find any as I started arbitrating (I had already indexed a lot of Indiana census images). What I did find made me scratch my head.
Most of the dual indices (each census image is indexed twice – the differences are then arbitrated) – were close enough to each other with minor exceptions – an “o” instead of an “a” or not paying attention that the “S” typed for “Son” turned out to be “sister”. Easy arbitration. Then came what I am calling – the indexers who apparently do not read any instructions. If there is not a dwelling number, instead of viewing the previous page to see what the dwelling number is, the indexer put <blank>. Really? Seriously? Or how about a place lived five years previous for a child who is only 2? Really? Seriously? I’ve even found a <blank> in place of a surname because generally the census taker did not write down the surname for each member of the family with the same last name. Really? Seriously? That sort of thing leaves me scratching my head.
Of course, I am still indexing records in between doing arbitration. When I do index, I try to be very careful and mindful of how my transcriptions are viewed by the person who will arbitrate what I’ve done.
I believe the biggest reason there are so many “oopsies” is due to indexers not reading directions or making sure the highlight is adjusted to the line that’s being transcribed. That being said, some of the census takers’ penmanship leaves a LOT to be desired! Spelling errors and such are forgiveable especially when trying to decipher some of those squiggles – such as lots of names crossed out and rewritten above what’s crossed out – looks like a 2nd grader has written everything!
So to my fellow indexers and arbitrators – we can only do the best we can and be as conscientious as possible. Quality before quantity – and a prayer that we are reading it right doesn’t hurt!