Casefile Clues

12 December 2012

Finding Lucinda Fairman in 1850


It took me a while to find Lucinda "Fairman" in the 1850 census.

I "knew" she should be in Enfield, Grafton County, New Hampshire. The difficulty was finding her. When I looked at the entry underlined in red on the image above, I knew I had the right person. Comparing the birth place that is clearly Connecticut (in green above) with Lucinda's (in blue above) also confirmed that her place of birth was Vermont and not Connecticut.

When I went back and looked at how her entry was transcribed at Ancestry.com., I realized why I had difficulty finding here.

This shows the results screen when I searched the 1850 census for people born in 1807 (plus or minus 5 years) with first name of  Luc*, living in Grafton County, New Hampshire, and a keyword of "enfield."

Search results for at Ancestry.com.of the 180 U. S. Census on 12 December 2012

Lucinda was transcribed as Lucinda Lamum, born about 1808 in Connecticut. I could see how her name was transcribed the way it was--although I disagreed with it. The error in the place of birth was not as easy to see, especially as Connecticut was clearly indicated as "Conn." in at least one other entry on the page.

Before we complain too much, it does us well to remember that the alternative to using the indexes is to search page by page.  I think I'll stick with the indexes and keep making that list of tricks and workarounds when the humans who have made the index have transcribed something in a way in which I would not. Sometimes those differences are simply due to interpretation variations and sometimes, yes, they are due to error.

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