The U.S. censuses are by far the most popular documents we have online, so recently, Ancestry.com has worked hard to improve the images, indexes, and search functionality for the U.S. censuses. The latest installment, the improved 1920 census, is now spiffed up and ready to go.
We now have new digital images, which means better image quality and readability.
Re-keying for a new index revealed an additional 250,000 names that have not appeared in our index before, and arbitrating differences between the original index and the new effort will mean better transcriptions, the addition of some 20 million alternative names, and a more accurate index.
Since I don’t have any research going on in 1920 right now, I decided to check out some of the new images. I confess, this wasn’t a rigorous, double-blind study complete with a control group and sophisticated regression analysis. In fact, my experiment was about as random and unscientific as you can get.
I had nothing to go on, no frustratingly fuzzy pages I had encountered in the past, so I just spent some time tooling around the site one afternoon looking for pages that could use a little help. It was a bit of a crapshoot, but I found a half dozen, sent my list to our scanning folks, and asked if I could get a peek at the new pages. And some of them do look promising.
This might be my best one. It’s from the Dallas 100th precinct, District 80, and the lower left-hand corner is just about illegible. Here’s a screen grab from the website.
And here’s the upgraded scan:
Hello, Joseph Johnstone!
Of course, not every page is going to yield a revelation. Some are just a little easier on the eyes, like these columns from Haskell, OK:
And the new:
And some will still keep your nose pressed pretty close to the monitor.
A little better?
OK, I think some of these enumerators must have written with a #4 pencil and a very light hand. The new images aren’t going to fill in every blank, but here’s hoping they fill in a few of yours. Let me know if you come across some good examples from your own searches. And enjoy the improved 1920 census.