04 March 2015

He Was Born in T: Being More Specific than the Database Won't Help

Too much information can be a problem in many ways. It can be a particular problem when querying genealogical databases created from original documents that may have information entered in a non-standard way.

Transcribers are encouraged to transcribe documents as they are written and not to transcribe them they way they think they should be.

That's what happened with the database entry in Ancestry.com's "Sweden, Selected Indexed Household Clerical Surveys, 1880-1893." for Samuel Johnson who was born in Tjarstad, Sweden, in 1867.

Searching for him with his birth place as that village brought back no results as shown below.

 That's because the only information listed for him as a place of birth is "T" and so that is what was transcribed.

I imagine the pastor from Tjarstad who compiled the Household Clerical Survey became tired of writing Tjarstad over and over--so he abbreviated it with a "T."

And that's how it got put in the index.

And that's how it should be done. 

Note: Samuel was searched for as an exercise simply for this blog post---and I discovered two entries for him in the Household Clerical Survey as a result.

Lesson number one: Avoid being overly specific in creating database searches. Sometimes too much information is too much.

Lesson number two: sometimes it pays to search for people you've already located. One never knows what might turn up.