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The Genealogist

UK Indexer Help

Additional help can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page.

DeCiphering the Transcription


The dictionaries - accessible from the main UK Indexer page - can help you to find possible matches to a name.

On the main UKIndexer page click on 'dictionary'. You will be presented with a page similar to that shown in Figure 1 (below). Enter a name into the search box. An asterisk can be used as a wild card. For example entering Rober* will produce results such as Roberts and Robertson as surnames and Robert as a forename.

Figure 1: Dictionary page.

Click the 'Find it' button. The resulting window will be similar to that as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Dictionary search results.

The frequency at which the name occurs in the census database is indicated alongside the possible variations of the name. Common names such as the surname 'Roberts' and the forename 'Robert' obviously have more occurrences than less common names such as 'Robery'.

Wildcards are especially useful if part of a name is indecipherable. Using 'R**ert' as a search string will give suggestions as to what the missing letters could be. It is likely that the above would be 'Robert' but, it could also be Rupert, etc. Comparison with the census page should help in deciding which name is relevant.

General Transcription Deciphering Pointers

A census page written by more than one hand is unusual. It is possible though to compare the style and construction of handwriting to other entries on the same or adjacent pages.

If you are having difficulty in deciphering a name, browse the image or adjacent images to confirm whether or not the formation of the letters is the same as that in other names.

The census enumerator occasionally spelt names incorrectly. It is better to record the entry as written by the enumerator. In some cases, where for instance parents have broken with tradition, the name is correctly spelt even though it may be different from the norm. For example, two relevant but different spellings of the name 'Claire' exist. Or should that be 'Clare'! The records will still be locatable due to the sophistication of the search tools employed by the Genealogist.

It can take a while to get accustomed to how a particular enumerator wrote. First names are more readily recognised and so give a basis as to what letter shapes an enumerator uses. When trying to interpret a line you should look at the line above and follow any descenders down and try to interpret the names without the clutter of descenders from the line above.

If a name is particularly difficult to read you will need to assemble a range of names from the possible letters.

As a general guide the following rules apply:

  • Letters such as p, f and q normally have straight 'descenders' going below the line.
  • Letters such as y, g, j are likely to have loops to the left whereas letters that swing to the right could be f or q.
  • Look for the crosses on t and the dots on j and i. Look for straight strokes of l.
  • If you can’t distinguish a forename don’t forget to look at the column the age is written in to check the gender of the person and their position in the household.
    'Dau' or Daughter, 'Son' etc.
  • Earlier census material may show a different surname spelling to a later one; as literacy improved these variations reduced in number.
  • Please use the forum. It is there for everyone to use. Often your question may already have been answered. If not, create a post and either an administrator or another indexer will answer your question.


The Tool

Click on the 'Let's Get Started' link and a window will open containing the transcript to edit, and at the top of this window is a link to the original image.

The top window as shown in figure 3 is the transcript page. The bottom window shows an image of the original census page.

Figure 3: Transcript Page and the Original Census Image.

Should the image not correspond at all with the data to edit, look at a few pages immediately prior to and following the current image. This can be achieved by using the links < or > located either side of the ‘Refresh Image’ link at the top left of the image window.

Whether or not you find the image please use the 'Report Image' link to alert us that the images need to be re-aligned with the data. This link is found at the top-right of the data page. If you have located the correct census image then please proceed to checking the records.

Figure 4: Highlighted error

The line highlighted in green on the transcript page has been identified as having a potential error.

The potential error shown in Figure 4 is Mary Loing who has been transcribed as being a Wife but has a different Surname to the Head. It cannot be assumed that she should have the same Surname as the entry above as either the Relation or Surname could be incorrect and therefore an inspection of the census image is required.

Figure 5: Checking the census image

The image shows that an error in transcription has occurred and needs correcting. The error is in the Surname column and you can see that Mary has been given the Surname of the Servant Elizabeth and therefore the Surnames have become out of sync for the Murrays and the Rae’s. However this error originated with Harriet Smith, the Sister in Law listed above Alexander Murray, and therefore she also requires her Surname amending.

There may well be more mistakes than just the highlighted entry. Check each line of the data against the corresponding entry on the image (this has the added advantage of more available credits).

If you locate a missing entry, click the ‘Add’ link located under Actions on the transcript window. You have the option of adding the missing entry either before or after the entry you have clicked on, this ensures that it is inserted into the correct place. Please fill in all details and once completed press insert.

If an incorrect entry is evident then click the ‘Edit’ link to the left of the entry you wish to amend. This will reveal the current transcript in text boxes where any corrections can be entered.

Figure 6 illustrates the Surname of Loing being changed to Murray.

Figure 6: Changing a surname.

Clicking the 'Edit' link again will amend the transcript to show the changes that have been entered. The field that was changed will now be highlighted in bold type.

This process should be repeated for every mistake that is encountered. When the page has been completely checked and amended accordingly (Figure 7) press the 'Save' button and any entries that you have made changes to will become green as shown in Figure 8. If you are happy with the page then press the ‘Finished’ link, you will be asked if you are sure you want to submit your page and you have the option to return back to check any entries at this point. If you are sure you have corrected any errors click the ‘Yes’ link. Your corrections will be submitted and you have the option to close the page or review the next page that is available.

Figure 7: All amendments have been made.

Figure 8: Amendments have been saved.

Figure 9: The page has successfully been submitted.


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