Friday, December 14, 2007

Argentina 1895 Census Part 3

Introduction

I thought I would spend some time and read through some mailing lists/groups to see if anyone was talking about the Argentina 1895 census. People are talking alright, but it seems that the excitement that I anticipated seems to be overshadowed by talk of indexing errors.

Computers vs. Microfilms

Most of us, if not all, would agree that computers have taken genealogy research to the next level. Having things at your finger tips with the click of a mouse or by searching a website are awesome, if you can find what you are looking for.

There has been some talk about the inaccuracies in the 1895 Argentina census. I believe some are a little hesitant to talk about them and voice their opinion, but like I tell my students...'everyone should have an opinion, and not be afraid to share it.' Here's my opinion...researching via computer/internet is completely different than microfilm. Let's way some options.
  • Ordering microfilm to Argentina can take several months. If you are patient that's okay, however, I'd prefer to try an online collection with some errors first before I order a microfilm.
  • Ordering microfilms aside let's look at Family History Centers. I love the satellites of the Family History Library, but most of them have really irregular hours that might not fit your schedule.
  • Family History Center space is limited. Ever been to a center and not been able to use a film reader, because they are being used by others? It's not fun, especially if you've made adjustments in your schedule to visit the center during irregular hours.
Computers in Genealogy and Family History

As more and more record collections become available online, the more and more we need to adapt. If you speak with anyone that has used the U.S. 1900 census on microfilm and internet they will tell you that the internet is the best way to go hands down...even with all of it's errors. Some don't realize that the U.S. 1900 census probably has just as many errors as the Argentina 1895 census.

Recently a study was done on the http://www.ancestry.com 1900 U.S. census index and the index recently finished via FamilySearch Indexing by volunteers. In this particular case study the two indexes did not match nearly 65% of the time. Nearly 90% of the time Ancestry's index contained the errors. Long lecture made short - all indexes have problems/errors.

So, what do we do to combat all the errors? Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Alternate spellings - Argentina is just as large as melting pot as the United States. Germans, Italians, French, Spaniards, etc. immigrated to the country. You will want to be careful when searching for your ancestors. 99% of the names will be spelled with a Spanish flavor. Or if the census taker was a native Spanish speaker, and the family was Italian or German the communication may not have been very good, hence some spelling errors may have occurred. About a week ago an individual couldn't find their ancestors they knew were in the 1895 Argentina census. After being a little creative we found them. Take a look:
    • Family Surname: Caballieri (Italian) - the individual was found in the census as: Caballini
    • Family Surname: Haine (French according to the census) - the individual was found in the census as: Haure.
    • Ancestor: Adela Garramuño de Romeiro - the individual was found in the census as: Adela G. de Rameiro
  2. Indexers make mistakes - No one is perfect, and no one index is perfect. If you don't like the quality of an index, then you should step up and participate in the indexing efforts yourself. It is easy to pick on the work of others when you haven't helped. The Mexico 1930 census is available to work on right now. It might not be for your country, but it will give you some experience, which will help you in the future when an indexing project for your country becomes available. By the way - the 1930 Mexico census project is going very slow...please help out.
  3. Be greatful and be patient - Yes, you are entitled to your opinion...but this is the first significant Latin American collection to be available for free on the internet. I can understand if you were complaining about the quality if you were paying for a subscription, but this is free.
The census will get better over time, i.e. browsable (good quality) images, and a way to make the current index better. Don't be afraid to share your opinion...feedback is always welcome and necessary for making things better. In the meantime let's make the most of what we have, and use this wonderful resource to find ancestors.

1 comment:

Alejandro J. Galliano said...

I just wanted to say tham I'm so grateful for all the information shared in the familysearch labs site.
It is a incredible work, and it show that beautiful things can be done by cooperation.
There are errors in the indexing, but it is a minor problem compared to the possiblility of having these records online.
Your blog is also very interesting, thank you for keeping us informed ;)