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AfriGeneas Genealogy and History Forum Archive

Re: Complete 1910 Census now at


I fully appreciate your frustration. In the past few months, I've noticed the indices are full of more and more errors. But rather than giving up or getting frustrated, I've decided to just try to outsmart them.

For example, try using the WILDCARD search ... something that only Ancestry has (you won't find this on Heritage Quest or You'll need the first three characters of the surname OR given name, then an asterisk (i.e. BAR*). If the person who did the actual transcription had a problem reading the census record or if they're unfamiliar with the name, there's no telling how it might end up in Ancestry's database.

Okay, so you're looking for a name like WALTERS, sounds easy enough, but the census enumerator could have heard the name as WATERS, or WATTERS, and even if he heard it correctly, he could have misspelled it as WALTORS, WALTERRS, etc.

You see where I'm going with this. I had a PAYNE family in Mecklenburg County, VA that just eluded me for one census, no matter how hard I searched, Soundex, Wildcards, you name it. Finally, I did a search of ONLY THE GIVEN NAME (no surname) and when I got to Roberta, a fairly uncommon name, up came the whole Payne family, except they had been enumerated as PAGE. I knew it was them because all the information of the individuals checked out, as well as most of the neighbors that had been living nearby for all the other census records.

In some cases, it's Ancestry's fault, but in other cases, it's the enumerator, poor penmanship, accents hard to understand, etc. Oh, by the way, I've also heard that they're having most of their transcriptions done in India, which would explain many of the errors I've seen recently.


Good luck in your search, my friend.

- Lisa B. Lee, PLCGS
Oakland, CA

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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