Talk:FamilySearch Indexing: US—1940 Federal Census, Project Updates

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The talk pages are not supervised by Indexing support -

Canada[edit source]

"If Canada French or Canada English is recorded index only Canada."  I gave up on indexing Maine because the arbitrators can't remember this rule.  It is the second to last piece of info on the project updates page.


I think when it gets so bad that you feel like quitting, it definitely warrrants an email to Family Search. They need to know if you are having real problems. Since the arbitrators are choosing between 2 people's answers, (before deciding if they need to enter their own answer), it sounds like a lot of Indexers haven't gotten the word either.

Info written in the wrong places on the form
[edit source]

What do you do when the name of the state is written in the city field?


(Please see the Wiki Project Updates page for the answer under the Place of Birth and Residence fields section)


Note: The Guidlines allow us to switch location of Given/Surnames, if they are obviously written backwards. Titles/Terms are moved to the appropriate box. Everything else is to be written in the box where it is originally recorded, even if incorrect.

Hawaii Census - Race[edit source]

The census form shows Caucasian - Cau.  The indexer put white.  How should this be arbitrated, Caucasian or White?


On the Drop Down Menu Cau/Caucasian is not an option, so I would go with White. That is how I would Index and Arbitrate it.

What to do with crossed out records?
[edit source]

Just got this batch back from Arbitration. Basic Indexing Guidelines state that "if information is crossed out, not replaced, but the original information can be read, type the crossed-out information", which I did, since there's no project specific instructions that contradict this guideline. The arbitrator went through and marked lines 1-29 as blank, which is more than half of the work I did. I'm willing to accept that I did this wrong but unless I'm completely misinterpreting the guidelines I'm pretty sure I'm in the right... anyone able to clarify? This probably isn't the only batch with crossed out information like this.


I am an Indexer and an Arbitrator. My understanding of the instuctions would lead me to have indexed everything, marking just line 29 as <Blank>, and if I was arbitrating the page I would have just looked for individual problems. I feel that you are absolutely in the right according to the Basic Indexing Guidlines.  I hope you take the time to go through and check the Feedback box on every single item. What a chore. I hope it makes you feel better that someone agrees with you. I think the "powers that be" will definitely take note of so much negative feedback.

Comments with feedback when reviewing arbitration?[edit source]

I had a very difficult when indexing a page from Wisconsin. It was loaded with Norwegian last names, poor handwriting and bad focus. My solution: I found the same street in the 1930 and 1920 census where the image quality was better and found the same families and how they were spelled back then. However, the arbitrator did not always choose my entries, even though I was very confident of the ones that were hard to read because of my research. Is there any way to comment to an arbitrator when sending feedback to explain why your choices were made?


I am an Indexer and an Arbitrator. I agree with everyone's observations. I just want to comment that the previous poster is good to have mentioned looking in earlier censuses to compare name spelling.  Remember if the name is spelled wrong on the Census we have to copy it, but using earlier Censuses to look up names for coroboration of what you think is written is very helpul.  I do it at some point on almost every page when Aribitrating.  The Lookup Lists are also very helpful for getting coroboration of what you think you see in each field. I also use the Internet to look up correct spelling of cities and counties I am not familiar with. Cannot correct the county if the wrong county was entered, but can correct spelling on all the geographical names.


I have the same concern.  I'm an arbitrator but do indexing sometimes.  I sometimes get low scores on my indexing because the arbitrator was mistaken.  This is very frustrating and discouraging.  I'm not going to quit, but I find I'm doing less and less.  Again, it is discouraging to be doing your upmost to be accurate and have it undone by someone else.


I agree, I go through the same pains trying to get it right.  There is a Feeback option, however, I am not sure it actually does anything.  You can only check a box that asks someone to review the arbitrator's changes, you cannot provide any actual information as to why you asked for this review.  Some arbitrator's are good, others should be pulled from the program.


I entered data for a Texas county re property taxes and the aribtrator completely ignored the instructions and replace the owners of the land with the original grantees of those pieces of land, rearranged the order of the entries to completely ignore the order on the actual pages, and generally screwed it up. The result was a 34% correct for the 2 pages done after this alteration from reality. Although I've entered a check mark for the feedback choice for well over half of these fouled up entry changes, I doubt that the feedback is more than spot checked. The resources simply are missing for this. There needs to be a way to request that a SECOND arbitration take place in cases where the percentage is unreasonably low, since clearly someone who gets in the upper 90% range all the time will not get a 30% rating on a sheet unless someone is misreading the instructions. In this case it was the arbitrator, and there is NO way I can get anyone to really look at what was done and explain to whoever did the arbitration what was incorrect with the way he or she did this work.


When I signed up to be an Arbitator, I read somewhere in the process that the Feedback is looked at, and that if an Arbitrator is consistently having problems, then they will be asked not to continue.  I hope this doesn't happen to me, but I think it is a very good policy, and hope that it is true. I think it is very important to continue to check the feed back box when you feel that instructions are being disregarded by the Arbitrator.  When checking my own arbitration results after Indexing, which I also do, I tend to give it to the Arbitrator on the spelling/number issues, when it is close, as that is often opinion, and the Arbitrators are choosing between 2 Indexers opinions. When Arbitrating, and on the occasional times that it appears both Indexers are obviously off, I definitely check other sources, like earlier censuses, before entering my own opinion.  At some point I hope they configure the system so that Arbitrators can see their feedback. If I have missed how to do that I hope someone lets me know.


This page indicates that it is not 'supervised by Indexing support'; it obviously is not even visited 'by Indexing support' - there appear to be unanswered questions and absolutely no discussion from anyone sounding like they are from 'Indexing support'.  It appears that we are all talking to the wind.

If there is any 'official' monitoring these discussions, please reconsider letting just anyone be an arbitrator.  It is a real shame to have the work of 'good indexers' destroyed by 'bad arbitrators'.  You will end up losing at least some of your 'good indexers' if they continously see their efforts ignored and overwritten by bad data. Not to mention that family search is not helping the researcher if your indexing is not as accurate as possible.


What about questions... not just comments. In one of the records I indexed, the census-taker had put all of the family numbers in the wrong box. The arbitrator went through and changed all my family numbers to blanks. I'd like to ask if I should have done what I did. It seemed so obvious and I'm thinking it would be hard for someone to seperate the entries into families if they were all blank. Let me know... it result in my lowest arbitration score ever!


I agree with all of the above, a comment box would be nice when clicking the feedback form. I've had several pages come back with "corrections" that should not have been made: "Wm" being changed to "William" even though the instructions say to keep abbreviated names abbreviated; line numbers being entered for blank lines when instructions explicitly state otherwise; cities/counties/states/places of birth blanked out when there are ditto lines; and those are just off the top of my head. A vast majority of the "mistakes" in my indexing have actually been correct in the first place and are the result of an arbitrator not reading or following project instructions or updates. Another suggestion would be to allow us to review our arbitrated records (as we already can), and if the arbitrator clearly made mistakes, clicking "please review" should immediately send the record BACK to the arbitration queue, along with our comments in a popup box. If FS is worried about comments being "heated" or inappropriate they could add some ticky boxes to the Feedback popup with common issues.

If anything, this would allow FS to see which arbitrators are making a lot of mistakes and perhaps bump them back to only being able to index if they dip below a certain percentage of agreement. Yes it would take slightly more time to get records out there but I don't think quality should be put on the backburner in favor of quantity!

Not only that, but I'm sure the arbitrators would be just as upset as us when they read the results and then take the time to READ the rules!

"Ab" or "AG" after the given name[edit source]

I understand that "Ab" means the person was temporarily absent from the household on April 1, but should it be indexed in the Titles or Terms field? I'm guessing it shouldn't. I think I remember not indexing it for the 1930 census, but I just thought I would check. Thanks!

The directions tell us NOT to index the AB.

I just arbitrated a record that had "AG" printed after the first name. It looked like an abbreviation that was added after the census was enumerated, as it was printed a little above the line and at an angle. I called support to find out if this abbreviation was routinely used by enumerators, and support answered (essentially), "We don't know why 'AG' was written there, but do not index it as part of the name.'

Index the "R" or type out "RURAL"[edit source]

When the City of Residence has an "R", should the "R" be typed or "Rural"? I've been arbitrated both ways. What is correct?

I read in the directions that it should be typed as it is written. Is the arbitrator changing your answer to match the form?

"City of Residence" variations[edit source]

I have encountered "same" and "same building" in the "city of residence column."  How should these be indexed?  A pink warning background appears when such data from the census page is typed in.  One abritrator blanked out the "same" when I entered it.  It appears that the census person did not follow the rules...

Alleghany County, MD vs. Allegheny County, PA[edit source]

I have been mis-arbitrated several times on this one.. I was pretty sure I was right, since I grew up in Western PA, but I researched it to verify...

Although they both have the same long a pronunciation, the correct spelling in Pennsylvania is Alleghe

It ends with -any in Maryland. 


Allegany, Maryland is the correct spelling.....Allegheny, PA  is correct for PA

"Same place" notations in New York City  [edit source]

Project instructions state that when "Same place" is noted in Column 17 (City of residence in 1935), columns 18 and 19 (county and state of residence in 1935) should always be marked blank.  This instruction makes sense in most places.  New York City, however, encompasses 5 counties within the city limits.  Therefore, someone may live in Brooklyn in New York CIty (Kings County) in 1940, but have moved there from Manhattan in New York City (New York County) in 1935.  So they are in the "same place" i.e., the same city, but in a different county.

Indeed, in the pages I have been indexing from the Bronx in New York City (Bronx County) I have found numerous incidences where people have moved from one county within New York City to another.  I have therefore -- on New York City census pages only -- when "same place" is noted in column 17, been filling in column 18 whenever the enumerator has done so.  Column 19 (State) is always the same, so I mark it blank.  With "same house" notations, I mark both 18 and 19 blank.


Please stop doing this. The actual census records themselves say:

"For a person who, on April 1, 1935, was living in the same house as at present, enter in Col. 17 "Same house," and for one living in a different house but in the same city or town, enter, "Same place," leavin Cols. 18, 19, and 20 blank, in both instances." <span style="font-style: italic;"

Please see the emphasized portion of the text. It does not matter if they moved from Brooklyn to Queens or the Bronx; "same place" refers to city of residence only.

[Blanking Column 18 also misdirects research when trying to back-track where their ancestor's lived during the State's 1935 Census, and possibly the 1930 Federal Census]


[- Agree (does anyone from Family Search actually read this discussion board?)]


Just a comment. Please remember that the geanealogical researcher should just be using our indexing/arbitration only as an index to locate the name. To record the data they should be going to the original source, the Census page. So if the county information is on the original Census page, the researcher will see it. It adds to Arbitration time to have to go back and "Blank" any county data that was left in a Same Place record. Please follow all guidelines and updates.


Please stop doing this and start following the guidelines. This is not just some arbitrary rule that Family Search or whomever has commissioned them to digitize these records came up with for no apparent reason. The actual census records say:

"For a person who, on April 1, 1935, was living in the same house as at present, enter in Col. 17 "Same house," and for one living in a different house but in the same city or town, enter, "Same place," leaving Cols. 18, 19, and 20 blank, in both instances."

Bold added for emphasis. It does not matter if they moved from Brooklyn to Queens or the Bronx in the last five years; "same place" refers to city of residence only, which in the example given above would be New York/New York City. Information other than "same place" or "same house" being entered by the enumerator was an error at the time of the census being taken, which we are essentially fixing while Indexing.

Thanks for trying to help, but unless the field instructions say so, please type what you see  ...and if you are an arbitrator, please do not change our blanks (as the directions unfortunately tell us to do when someone lives in the same place) to a field value that was written for county and state![edit source]

I am relatively new to arbitration, but in just the last few days I am totally surprised by the number of indexers who seemingly try to enhance what is written on the census page.  This includes:

 - renumbering lines after encountering a blank line (so if line 17 is blank, then the indexer places 17 on the record for line 18, etc.) Please just omit the line number of the blank line and use the line number from the form for the next line.  Also, if the form (all the "B" forms) start with line number 41, you need to use line number 41 as well.  We need to stay consistent with the line numbers on the image so researchers can find the correct line on the image quickly and accurately.

 - placing zeros in front of single digit line numbers ( 01, 02, 03, etc.)  - please don't.

 - pulling down the city, county, state from the header into blank fields even though the instructions say not to do this

 - correcting the spelling of names or writing out abbreviations to names when the instructions of certain fields do not say to do this.  Some do, some don't.  If this is hard to remember, you might want to make yourself some notes about when you should.  The field after the given name is for identifiers, like Jr, Sr, Mr, Mrs, etc.  The instructions clearly state to tab over this field when it is not needed.

 - not looking at the previous image when needed to fill in dittos (lines, etc.) at the beginning of your image.  We need complete information, even if that is only found on the previous image.

 - placing the surname in the given name field and vice versa.

 - TYPING IN ALL CAPS - this is a no-no.  It looks bad when ALL CAPS and Mixed case are placed in the same record - especially as the result of the arbitrator choosing some of each to get the best info.

 - use Control-B or the proper button to mark fields blank.  Simply typing the word, "blank" is not the same as the system marking the field <Blank>

We all want access to these indexes, but please take the time to actually read and become familiar with the project and field instructions.  Indexing badly slows down the process of arbitration and in turn slows down the availability of the index.  We are all human, and we all make mistakes (I am still learning about this project), but let's all do the best we can!


Remember that the "rules" for how something is entered is not always determined by FamilySearch. These records we're indexing come from partner organizations such as governmental entities. THEY most often are the people who determing how problems should be handled and what should be entered, how it should be entered, and even what should be entered or indexed.

What does a horizontal line represent?[edit source]

As an indexer I have trouble knowing what to do when locations have a horizontal line in them.  They mostly look like a kind of a ditto symbol (especially for birth location) although in a few instances they look like a symbol for blank (especially for children under 5).  I have been treating them as blanks instead of making a guess as to the author's intent.  It seems I came across a help reference that said it was up to the indexer to use their best judgement. 

What do other indexers do?
Personally I'll look at other spaces that I know should be blank (such as for children under 4) and see what the enumator used as a "blank" and go from there. Sometimes I'll scroll over to the occupations as well since there's usually a lot of blanks there, that helps a lot on the more confusing batches. It really is a judgement call on our parts.

Census entries added/modified later[edit source]

What should be entered when entries appear to be entered later and/or by someone else, possibly at the time the census info got coded?  An example is this page in lines 2 and 3 of the marital status. Thanks for any guidelines!
I have been indexing them as written. My assumption has been someone went over each page with pencil and corrected errors/filled in missing info and that is what we're seeing.

ETA: Indexing as written unless it's in the marital status (usually you'll see, say, M crossed out and replaced with 7 -- make sure you still index the M, as per the project updates). You can check the Basic Indexing Guidelines for more info on what to do with information that's been crossed out.

Go back and look at the basic indexing instructions that say "If information is crossed out and replaced, type the replacement data." So if an entry in the Marital Status column said S and was crossed out and replaced with M or W, then you should enter M or W. We don't know when, why, or by whom the record was changed, only that it was changed.  Enter the corrected data!  Follow basic directions.

Ireland[edit source]

I understand indexing Canada English as 'Canada'. Based on that, I have been indexing North(ern) Ireland as just 'Ireland'. Any preference?

Yes.  As an arbitrator who also reviews my wife's indexing work before being submitted, remember the general rules for this project;  For the place of birth field, index what you see, correcting only spelling if you can determine the correct place.  Any exceptions are provided by the project manager.  AND the only exception that I am aware of is for Canada, not any other countries. 

Therefore, I believe that we should never assume what the project manager wants by extending a specific exception to other circumstances.  If the project manager wants Northern Ireland indexed as only Ireland, then we will all be notified.  Until then, follow the directions to index what you see, correcting spelling if you can determine what it should be. 


I WILL index what I see...when the Authority List is updated to include "Eire" as an approved entry.  Until then, the approved (Authority List) place of birth IS Irish Free State. Arbitrators who change it back to Eire will contine to get feedback.  Project Management needs to get their act together on this one!


This dilemma of Eire vs. Ireland concerned me as well. But in reviewing the information on the Project Updates Page (US-1940 Federal Census) I found under the heading Place of Birth and Residence Field, "If a location such as Eire is recorded type what is on the document."
It now seems clear that if Eire is recorded, Eire is to be indexed and arbitrated.
Note: Eire is not listed in the Lookup ... list.  I don't think The Lookup... list is to be considered an Authority List. Where is the approved (Authority List)?


If any of the fields (17, 18, 19) are left blank, do not enter a City, County, or State, even if you know what it should be.  For example, Chicago, BLANK, Illinois.  Do not enter Cook in the County field.

The Updates mention a lot of issues that Arbitrators handle poorly. Please sesnd a copy of the Updates to all Arbitrators.  Do not just ask them to find the Updates and read them, but send them a copy on the email itself... Make it as easy as possible for them to read the updates, especially those for the 1935 residence fields.  Thank you!

It wasn't helpful to me. On the film I'm working with the census taker wrote in the RACE column 'Italian' and 'Checks' for those foreign born. Do we write what we see?