Monday, November 21, 2011

Census linking

One of my favourite online volunteer projects is  Volunteers have already transcribed the entire Canada 1901 and 1911 censuses, and now people can add themselves as researchers to individuals and families, and link individuals across the two censuses.

For instance, here's my grandmother and her family in 1901:

10 81Woodard Angus MM HeadMJan 251865
36page icon
 11 81Woodard Sarah EF WifeMSep 61869
31page icon
 12 81Woodard Sarah EF DaughterSAug 201894
8page icon
 13 81Woodard Lola PF DaughterSJan 141894
7page icon
 14 81Woodard Charles WM SonSAug 131897
3page icon
15 81Woodard Lydia MF DaughterSMay 181900
10/12page icon

And here they are in 1911:

32 7Woodard Angus MHeadMFeb186546Links
33 7Woodard Sarah E FWifeMSep186941Links
34 7Woodard Sarah C FDaughterSApr189218Links
35 7Woodard Lolla P FDaughterSJan189417Links
36 7Woodard Charles W MSonSApr189713Links
37 7Woodard Lula G FDaughterSAug19055 
38 7Woodard Iva B FDaughterSMay19083 

I think this illustrates perfectly why this can't be done automatically.  Sure, Angus and Sarah E are consistent names, but can the computer recognize why Lola became Lolla?  And why has Angus's birth month changed from January to February, and his daughter Sarah's from August 1894 to April 1892?

In another census year Lola and Charles are given as Pearl and Wellington, the names I knew them by, but actually their middle names.  Additionally, I knew the daughter Sarah as Great-Aunt Sadie.  That makes it difficult for searchers to match people up by name alone.

It becomes a little treasure hunt, finding someone related to you in one census, and then trying to track them down in the other.  I'm about to do a little more hunting...

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