Many of you have complained about the misindexed abbreviations of Ancestry.com. Now Ancestry has gone back and reworked the 1850 United States Federal Census to correct these errors, among others.
Many of us are familiar with seeing old style name abbreviations formed by leaving out intermediate letters and elevating the last letter of the name. Peter becomes Petr. James becomes Jams. Samuel becomes Sam
l. The propensity to abbreviate in this fashion seems to have applied to some place names. Florida was abbreviated Fla. Georgia was Ga. Pennsylvania was sometimes abbreviated Penna. Indiana was sometimes abbreviated Ia.
That style persists in many U.S. Postal Service two letter state abbreviations such as GA for Ga. and PA for Penna. Florida and Indiana are not among them. Fla. is now FL and Ia. is now IN.
Ia. is the wildcard that threw off Ancestry’s 1850 census. (See Geolover’s comment to “Monday Mailbox: Indexing Place Names.”) While back in the 19th century Ia meant Indiana to Indianans, to young people today IA is always Iowa.
Two years ago in my article “The World Has Had Enough of Silly Presentisms” I presented the case of John Houts, 2 months old, born in Ia, and enumerated in Shawnee, Fountain, Indiana. Both Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org had it wrong:
This is how FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com used to look.
I’ve checked and Ancestry.com now has this case correct. Their indexing rule of “key what you see” probably made it relatively easy for them to re-expand all Ia abbreviations in the state of Indiana.
I’ve checked FamilySearch.org and they still have it incorrect. Their policy of having indexers expand abbreviations has left them no way to correct such errors. They don’t know if the original record stated Ia or Iowa. They also give users no way to provide corrections. But I digress…
What about your favorite errors in Ancestry’s 1850 census? Have they fixed them?