We’re Doing What it Takes to Create a Quality 1940 US Census Index
There’s something magical and inspiring about bonsai trees. They fuel the imagination with their illusions of the mighty patriarchs that preside over ancient forests—yet in reality they are mere midgets residing in a clay pot.
Quality like this is clearly not the result of a “weekend warrior” approach to horticulture. Rather, these tiny trees demand meticulous pampering and pruning, sometimes for decades, in order to reach their diminutive potential.
The 1940 US census index has grown a bit faster than the average bonsai, less than five months from start to finish to be exact, yet the approach to producing a quality end product has been remarkably similar. Just as you can’t rush bonsai, you can’t rush the production of a quality genealogical index.
For those who helped index and arbitrate the census and want to see the complete final product now, here’s a peek behind the scenes to explain why it’s going to take a few more weeks for the entire 1940 US census index to be published online.
With the 1940 US Census, every state has gone through the following process at FamilySearch headquarters.
- We review every image marked as blank, duplicate, or No Extractable Data to make sure they are accurate.
- We randomly select records to audit and verify the quality of the data.
- We convert the indexed data so that it can be manipulated by the publication team.
- We standardize place names, delete “Residence in 1935” information for children under 5 years of age, delete county and state of residence in 1935 if Same Place or Same House was recorded in columns 17–19, group individuals in households, and do more steps to get the data ready for publication.
- We deliver the index to the 1940 US Census Community Project partner websites (Findmypast.com, Archives.com, and ProQuest), so they can prepare the data to be published on their websites.
- We upload the data to our web servers and make it searchable online.
To compensate for the massive influx of new indexers, extra post-processing steps were added to increase the quality of the index. It was decided long before the project that these steps were necessary to create the highest quality index possible, even though it was obvious they would delay the final publication date.
We also coordinate the launch of each state index with our community partners. Why is the relationship with our partners so important? Check out this video for an explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rirGEwiVKXc&feature=relmfu
As we wind down the indexing project we want to once again thank everyone who had a part in completing this project. What you did was nothing short of a miracle, but please don’t quit. There are too many bonsais yet to plant and so much more magic to create.
This article was written by Michael Judson.