Casefile Clues

18 January 2013

Sam or Jane?

Some readers are familiar the Daily Genealogy Transcriber  another blog I write where daily handwriting samples are posted for followers/fans to try and interpret.

The specific source is usually not given and just a few details are provided so that readers are really seeing the image "cold." The site is not about citations and sourcing, but is about trying to read handwriting and to see how errors and other incorrect transcriptions get in indexes.

A few days ago, I posted an image that I knew was going to be transcribed several ways.


I told readers that the image was from a declaration of intent in 1913 from somewhere in Ohio. That was it. In reality, every piece of handwriting should be read in as much context as possible. However, our site attempts to mirror how many index entries get made: the indexer looks at each item individually, frequently out of context. It's not the way to transcribe, but it's the reality of how many indexes are created.

Before I comment further, let me state clearly that our goal at the Daily Genealogy Transcriber is to have as many submissions as we can get and that I encourage everyone to submit their entries. I view the Transcriber as a learning vehicle for all of us and have picked up a few interpretation tips myself. I don't post responses that make negative comments about other responses.

There is a chance for a little history lesson in this image though.

The year is 1913. It is the United States of America. In 1913, it was extremely rare for a woman to become a citizen--because the citizenship status of a woman was tied to her father or her husband. And for single women of the age of majority, the main reason for becoming a citizen did not matter in 1913.

That main reason: voting.

So the chance the first name is Jane is pretty remote.

I wish I had such an easy way to figure out the last name, but that's not as easy of a problem.