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1940 Census Indexing Insights

I've been bugging encouraging you for weeks now to try your hand at indexing the 1940 census.  If you haven't signed up yet, I understand.  I'm sometimes hesitant to sign up for something that I'm unfamiliar with, and hesitant to commit myself to something that I'm not sure I really will enjoy.  However, indexing is a risk-free endeavor.  Wait, I take that back.  If you do start indexing, you might find yourself indexing much more than you originally intended!  It really is that much fun.  (Either that, or my idea of fun is off.  Maybe both.) Anyway, go follow the above link and see what you think!

Today, I'm going to attempt to share some of the "tricks-of-the-trade" that have proved helpful to me in indexing the 1940 census. 

After signing in, I click on "Download Batch" and a list of various indexing opportunities pops up.  For today's post, I click on the Washington state 1940 census.  Soon, this is the image I see:


I quickly check to see that the page actually has writing on it; I have had a blank page appear before.  Most of the time, though, I select "Normal" for image type.  Under image type, I am asked for sheet number and sheet letter.  I've marked where to find and enter that information:


Next, I click "View" on the upper-left-hand side, and select "Show Highlights" and "Adjust Highlights". 


Showing and adjusting the highlights takes just a minute to do, but makes indexing go so much quicker!  Once you have checked "Show Highlights" and "Adjust Highlights", you will be able to move the highlights on the census so that they line up with the information you need.  You can click and drag the red line (emphasized in these photos with a red marker) to meet the corners.  You will want to line up all four corners.








Now you're ready to begin.  I've found that if you select "Form Entry", the indexing seems to go faster.


You will notice that the field you are being asked to index will be highlighted on the census.  Just type what you see into the entry form, and hit "enter" to move between fields.  Use control-b to enter a field that is blank (except for the "Title" field--if it is blank, just hit "enter" to move to the next field).




As you continue to index, you will find that many of the fields will be pre-filled for you.  For example, the surname field will automatically show what you typed on the previous line.  If the surname does not need to be changed, just hit enter to go to the next field.  Or, on the relationship line, if you have already entered a head of household for a previous family, once you type "h", "Head" will appear.  So you can just type "h" and enter to move on to the next field. 

Another help I use frequently is found under the "Edit" tab on the upper-left-hand-side, and is called "Lookup". 


I find it especially helpful if I am having difficulty deciphering handwriting, and I can't tell exactly how something is spelled.  It doesn't always have every name variation, but it is helpful.  You can look up words/names using "Starts with", "Contains", and/or "Ends with" fields, and possible suggestions will pop up. 


Simply scroll down until you find the right name, then hit "Accept Selected."

When you have completed the 40 lines of the census page, you will see this pop-up box:


Then, you will see entries that the program doesn't quite recognize.  It doesn't mean you transcribed them incorrectly, but you'll have a chance to review what you transcribed, just to verify. 

Then your work is submitted, and you will receive a congratulatory message:


That's all there is to it!  It took me much longer to blog about this batch than it did to actually index it.  I should also mention that there are project instructions and field instructions that are very clear, and do a good job of answering the "What do I put in this field?" questions. 

So, what are you waiting for?  As the old commercial said, "Try it; you'll like it!"

Fine legal print (that actually was useful last week:  last week's blog post was a random drawing winner!):  As part of the1940census.com ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire.

Thankful thought:  Thanks for google!  I learned today how to take a screen shot of my computer, which made writing this post a whole lot easier. 

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