A ‘One Namer’ experience
Although the 1911 England and Wales Census became available on-line earlier in 2009 it was obvious to me that the credit system would be financially out of my range for my One Name Study. Although my name is spelt as BAUGHEN it has many variations. The ones that I try to follow up on are:
Recently the ‘FindMyPast’ on-line site has extended the options so that it is now possible to have a subscription for the 1911 England and Wales census. As an existing customer it cost me £64.60 to upgrade and renew my subscription for a year.
Using the on-line indexes the following table shows number of individuals identified:
I decided to download both the Images and Transcriptions. In total I downloaded (at this stage) 430 Images and 434 Transcriptions. The discrepancy is due to the fact that it was obvious that a few were incorrectly indexed e.g. BAUGHAN when the Image showed VAUGHAN.
The credit system charges 30 credits for an Image and 10 credits for a Transcription. Using the better rate for usage of 280 credits at £24.95 I calculated this would have cost me £1546.90. And of course I still have access to the 1911 census for the rest of the year.
I copied and pasted the results of searches into a spreadsheet so that I had all the detail in one place. It took some manipulation to get it into a working document e.g. some of the fields are merged and needed separating. I then duplicated the worksheet and formatted it so that when I found a match against my family data I could copy the information into the individual’s record notes.
With so many records to deal with this stage is time consuming. But it is also very rewarding, especially when you manage to connect up orphaned family lines.
The first thing to do is to look at the image and determine if it belongs under one of the name variations. I also check for any other Transcription errors even if they are for other families. If I found discrepancies I used the on-line facility to notify ‘FindMyPast’ of these challenges. Each time you notify them of your findings they (a) display a page to close the web page (b) which prompts a small window asking you whether you want to close the page. This is followed up by sending you an email about the suggestion you submitted and finally at some stage you receive another email saying whether they agree or not. This is fine for the first or second time. By my calculation I notified them of 76 items that could easily be misinterpreted and 418 items that were more obvious. The items they disagree with (and there were very few of these) you can’t do anything about. In such circumstances the emails seem to serve little purpose.
Ancestry offer facilities for researchers to leave notes. Perhaps FindMyPast could learn from them as sometimes this can save others wasting their time following false leads.
Using the Image information I try to match up the individuals against my existing data base. If there are young children I often try to home in on their names. By about 1890 most children have more than one forename. The spelling of the surname tends to be more regular (around 1850 I’ve found 3 different spellings for the same person with birth, christening and 1851 census records). The age recorded also tends to be more accurate than with adults. Using the names, age and birthplace (for an area) I’ve found that I can normally match them. If I’m lucky I’ve already identified the parents. Those born since the 1901 census may not have the parents identified so there may be a bonus if they can be located.
Adults can be less accurate, whether due to memory loss, illiteracy or knowledge by the form completer. Therefore they can be more difficult to match. This is where knowing where they were in previous census helps. My experience indicates that the majority are relatively easy to locate.
The ones that tend to be more awkward to identify are those living in Institutions (including Military) or living on their own in the cities. The ones in Institutions have less information recorded about them. However I’ve found the inclusion of some of the Servicemen deployed overseas very useful (I don’t remember coming across them with previous census records). In particular, knowing the Regiments they were serving in can help with further research. It also helps link some of them with the Service records of men that served in the imminent First World War.
Apart from not having to retype the information I found that the use of the Transcriptions to be of little value. Ignoring the previously mentioned high number of Transcription errors my main objection is that FindMyPast only transcribe some of the data. And some of the other data can be very useful. The following example was fortunate but is illustrative.
The husband of one Boffin family was working in Reading, Berkshire. His wife was in Monmouthshire with the children. However when she completed her paper she included him and the names of the 4 children. However the names of the husband and the 2 children that had died before the census had been struck through – but readable. The ‘struck through’ names do not appear in the index. So anyone just looking at the Transcription would be missing this valuable information.
This census introduced asking the form completer about the number of children from the current marriage and how many were living and how many were dead at this date. This is very useful in checking if you have identified all the children at this time. I found that a lot of people put down this information (although it is often struck through) even if they were a widow or widower. Again very useful.
The census also records the number of years married. Again very useful for narrowing down when the marriage took place. I found that the combination of identifying the quarter that the marriage took place and then using the FreeBMD website I could normally determine the marriage partner (I only found 1 case where it was unclear).
As the census entries indicate whether people are widows or widowers it is worth noting if the status has changed since the previous census. In which case there may be a death that I may not have recorded in my data base. A search of the Death registration indexes is likely to identify the missing record.
As a result of the matching (and using the transcribed surname spellings as opposed to the real surnames) I had the following breakdown:
With the matching some of these are re-categorised e.g. the BOUGHEN entries were for BAUGHEN
Of these, at this stage, I had 31 unmatched entries.
I found it useful to look through all the comments included in parts like the Occupation. One entry was transcribed as ’Housework (Motherwill)’ when it
should have read ‘Housework (Mother ill)’.
As part of my documentation I produce maps showing the distribution of the people throughout the country. I use GenMap from Archer Software for this. Initially I exported the places from my 1901 maps and reset the counters to zeroes. I then added the values for the places that matched people in the 1911 census and imported this into a new map. I then used the insert facility to add all the new places with their respective counts. I then used Ashampoo’s Snap 3 to capture the maps for including in my document. The final document is then published on my website as an Adobe Acrobat PDF document.
The next stage was the most time consuming (full time for over a month). This involved looking at the information I had on the individuals identified in the 1911 census and determining whether I could find out any more. For example, I may not have found them in previous census. Using the online census and FREEBMD websites I was able to identify a considerable amount of additional data. It also identified 9 further people in the 1911 census (indexed under other spellings). The following table shows the number of people identified in the various census during this stage.
I didn’t count the number of additional Birth, Marriage and Death index entries identified but it was considerable.
I also tried to identify the relatively few individuals that had not been matched in the earlier stage. I had some success and the number of unidentified people is down to 18 (from 31).
All the census maps were updated and published.
The vast majority of work has been completed. The remaining unidentified individuals will continue to be researched but they will probably take a long period to resolve. In addition there are some people that have not appeared (or been identified) in the 1911 census and these will be followed up as they are identified; there will not be many cases.
As the Infirmity data will not be accessible until 2012 at that stage I will have to go through the whole lot again to see if anything applies.
I’m happy that I waited for the subscription option to be made available (and so is my wife and Bank manager). I’ve made a lot of progress in a short time although there has been a lot of work involved. In looking back I wouldn’t change the methods I used although if FindMyPast had offered a spreadsheet or XML extract I would have jumped at that.
I didn’t find many surprises. One to follow up is a male Baughan that was born in Holland.
21st December 2009
Member of the Guild of One Studies
© Copyright 2013–19 Cliff Baughen