Thursday, June 7, 2012

Census Indexing Horse Race Update for 6 June 2012

FamilySearch indexing status map for 6 June 2012Today we got a clearer picture on how the 1940 U.S. Census index publication horse race might play out. It might not be what you expected. announced earlier this week that they had completed an index for the state of New York. New York was the largest state in 1940, containing about a tenth of the country’s population. That was enough to boost Ancestry’s completion percentage to 11.19%, propelling their horse ahead of where the FamilySearch horse was at the time of my last update.

However, in that nine day period FamilySearch released Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Montana, pushing their publication horse to 13%.

While the Ancestry horse was not able to pass the FamilySearch horse, it is running much closer than people have perceived. We might just have ourselves a horse race.

Ancestry’s completion of New York is also a basis for comparison against the MyHeritage horse. Apparently both organizations were indexing New York at the same time. Obviously, Ancestry’s horse beat the MyHeritage horse to that important milestone. MyHeritage remains at 0.82%.

Along with their announcement of the publication of an index for New York state, Ancestry announced the release of other New York state databases and a special deal for New York state residents. For more information, visit .


  1. Enjoy reading your blog. Is completion the only standard? I am hoping for better transcriptions so the search for ethnic surnames isn't so arduous.

  2. I still don't understand how to search my 1940 Indiana Census. I can't find a way to search by names.

  3. Indiana isn't searchable by name yet. It's 100% indexed but Familysearch still has processes to go through before they release it.

  4. Your horse race analogy leads me to think of the result of horse races, a whole lot of manure, at least in's case.

    The indexes for the 1940 Federal Census for New York are horrible, and the 1915 and 1925 NYS Census indexes are equally bad.

    It is my belief that the outsourcing of the indexing was sent overseas, because these can't be native English speakers doing the work. The results are ridiculous.

    Ellen said she's having trouble with ethnic surnames. In those cases I search only on given names. Not with these indexes though, I have to search on nothing but year of birth +/- 1 many times.

  5. I appreciate this particular blog post as it is very informative as to what's happening in the world of 1940 census indexing.

    Regarding some of the comments posted, I think ancestry had college students do them. Of course, if I'm correct these are people who had no definitive reason for needing to know cursive handwriting as they grew up in the world of computers. Most of them cannot tell what a cursive capital I, Q, X, Y and Z is and quite a few do not know the difference be M and N in both capital and lower case. I find the same to be true for a lot of the Family Search volunteers as well. Unless the student took calligraphy somewhere along the way, there is little hope for them to be able to read what they are seeing. And it seems some of the volunteers on FS have forgotten what they learned in kindergarten.

    I also find the FamilySearch approach of TWYS to be a bit frightening as it places no emphasis whatsoever on learning how to read script and decipher what really is written. I've seen people be encouraged to specifically spell something wrong just because the indexer or arbitrator can't read it. I've had too many marked when the entries were simply as clear as a person can write in script.

    I really wish there was more emphasis on quality than quantity at all of the sites. But it seems that quantity is the priority and that won't change.

    However, I will say that Ancestry has done a bang-up job of providing a new innovative way to be able to view the indexed pages and at least they do have a function that allows the researcher to let them know how badly butchered a name is and what it really is. For now a butchered name on FS is just that and won't likely be found by too many people.

  6. Hmmm ... part of my post did not come through

    I posted that I've had too many marked as unreadable but with the brackets. Forgot that it would be picked up as HTML coding.

  7. I'd love to see a blog post on who does the indexing for Ancestry. It's a good thing I know where my peeps were in Maine and New York because I don't trust Ancestry's index. Speed does not encourage accuracy. At least FamilySearch has two people reading each page. Even though I've been frustrated at times with the arbiters, most of the time I can understand their judgement call.

    I'm not happy with all of the new techie page views over at Ancestry, either. The boxes with the (bad) transcriptions get in my way. I just want the data, please.


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