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Archiver > DEVON > 1999-07 > 0930936216

From: "Petronella Spivey" <>
Subject: RE: Census Indexing
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1999 18:23:36 +0100

Brian and others

The technical bits are easy for me, the time less so -- but I haven't a clue
about how to go about getting hold of a copy of a census for the weeks and
months it might take me. Or the copyright issues.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Brian Randell [mailto:]
> Sent: 02 July 1999 17:12
> To: Petronella Spivey
> Cc:
> Subject: Census Indexing
> Hi Petronella:
> >I would volunteer to do censuses for certain parishes that
> interest me: if I
> >knew how to go about it.
> Splendid. (I've taken the liberty of copying this reply, and hence your
> question, to DEVON-L, since other people may well be able to supplement my
> answer.)
> I have not transcribed census records myself - only land tax records, and
> directories, mainly. Until recent years, most censuses were indexed
> typically only by name, or even just by surname. However, the 1881 census
> index (and for Devon and a couple of other counties the 1851 census index)
> organised by the LDS and FFHS set a much higher standard, that I
> understand
> some FHSs are now adopting, since these index amount to almost a complete
> transcription of the census form, listing for every individual virtually
> all the information given about that individual.
> There is a pretty full description of the 1881 Census Index at
> At the other extreme, a simple surname index would probably only record:
> Name, Piece Number, Page Number
> and would have just one index entry for each different surname encountered
> on a page. (As I recall it, the now superceded DFHS 1851 census indexes
> were of this from.)
> Another indexing style is that adopted by Gordon Beavington, who has
> produced a vast number of Gloucestershire and Warwickshire census indexes
> single-handedly. See for example:

Whatever level of indexing is chosen, I would suggest that the most
appropriate method would be to use a database system, rather than a
word-processing program, for data input. The one I use is Filemaker, but
Access is perhaps the one most commonly available (at least on modern PCs).
The simplest method of publishing the results on the Web would be via
export to a word-processing system.

Ideally, there would already be standardised database templates available,
together with explanatory documentation regarding their use, perhaps from
the FFHS (based on their 1881 census work with the LDS). Unfortunately, I
do not know of any, but it would not be too difficult to produce a
Filemaker or Access database template to match the 1881 census files.

And ideally, a co-ordinated census indexing project would involve quite a
number of people, and duplicate keying-in of data, and very careful
checking of inconsistencies - all organised by someone with adequate time
to devote to the task. But failing that, individual efforts at indexing
small census areas of personal interest, are highly welcome.


Brian Randell

Dept. of Computing Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne,
EMAIL = PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232 URL =

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