Read In Context and Do a Manual Search

When we mention “issues” with transcription of records for indexes and other finding aids, there are responses that “you should read the whole page,” “learn how to read the individual clerk’s handwriting,” etc.

Completely agree. The problem is that many of us rely on indexes and databases created by others in order for us to locate specific records. Being aware of transcription issues and challenges is one way to make more effective use of those databases.

We also hear that “manual searches are necessary.” There is no doubt that a line by line search or a document by document search is the best way to make certain that no item or entry is overlooked. The problem with that approach is that some records are too voluminous for a page by page search (1940 census for the City of Los Angeles, etc.) or access to records does not allow an item by item search (certain vital records). In those cases, concerns about transcription and other data entry errors are integral to searching effectively and locating the desired item.

Help support Genealogy Tip of the Day by visiting any of the following sites: