News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. Place of birth Mexico . . . . or Middlesex?

    Transcription errors are far from rare within indexes of genealogical sources, not least in census records.  Poor handwriting and misunderstanding information can cause all sorts of mistakes to be made within the original records themselves, as well as the indexes compiled at a later date.

    A perhaps surprisingly common error is the indexing of “Middlesex” to read “Mexico”.  Type in Mexico as a place of birth within any census search engine, and many results are given.  But look closely, and how many suggest indexing errors?  For example, with the 1901 census surely “Holborn Mexico” and “Southall Mexico” and the numerous entries relating to “London Mexico” all refer to the county of Middlesex?

    So take care when examining indexes, and always look at the original!

  2. Troubleshooting census addresses

    Sometimes the handwriting on census records is not clearly recorded.  Names and places of birth can be compared for the same family between census returns, but addresses may not be so easily identified.  Some websites include the address within their transcription of the household, but even that could be incorrect if the handwriting is hard to read.

    One such problem arose with the 1881 census of Poplar, where the following street was recorded:

    Pearl Street

    The initial and final letters of this word were not immediately clear, and it street name could be read as ending “earl”.  By moving between the pages, the census enumerator wrote the street name much more clearly on a previous page.  It clearly read “Reeve Street.”

    Reeve Street

    This is just one tip for troubleshooting specific census transcription problems!

  3. Census transcription errors – Harrow or Hannover?!

    Online census transcriptions are invaluable to genealogists, but it is essential to always examine the original entry, rather than rely on the transcription itself.

    Researching a family in Harrow this week, one of our team found a place of birth in the 1851 census rendered “Hannover Weald” in the transcript.  On closer inspection, it read “Harrow Weald”, which was a township in the parish of Harrow on the Hill.  So no links to Germany then!

    lucy bolton

    The fact that the word Weald was clearly legible must surely alerted the transcriber to the fact that this referred to a more local place, although not enough to investigate further and recorded it correctly.

    This demonstrates that it is important to think creatively when using transcription websites, and always look at the original.

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