Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Irish censuses transcription errors

There's an interesting article at http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/genealogy/irish-census-names-translated-into-gibberish-by-canadian-institute about transcription errors made during the digitisation and indexing of the Irish 1901 and 1911 censuses (available at www.genealogy.nationalarchives.ie), a project carried out by Library and Archives Canada (www.bac-lac.gc.ca) on behalf of the National Archives of Ireland (www.nationalarchives.ie), from 2006-2010.

The principle problems arose from the fact that many of the Canadian staff employed were unfamiliar both with Irish names and the old style of handwriting in Ireland known as seanchló, resulting in names such as Ua Conchubhair or Ní Conchubhair being instead rendered as Na Concubaip or Ni Concubsip.

As ever, in any database, there will be transcription errors for many reasons. In the 1901 census, for example, my wife's great grandfather is indexed as Thomas Prendergast Kilonerry, rather than Thomas Prendergast, because he wrote his townland of origin beside his signature at the bottom of the page, which the indexer mistook for a surname. Where possible, it is useful to try to browse a record collection as well as search through it by keyword - you may recognise names that an indexer has mistaken or indeed omitted.

Despite the problems that emerge, however, imagine the world of genealogy without such searchable databases?!


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html.

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