Tips from the Pros: Check the Record Summary, from Michael John Neill

I tend to skip the record summary on most hits from census searches and go directly to the image. This can be a mistake.

The record summary for Ira Sargent in the 1836-1925 Iowa State Census Collection indicates he is living in Davis County, Iowa, in 1856. Other members of the household are also listed on the record summary page. I rarely click on these names, preferring to read the actual image whenever possible. When re-reading the record recently, I clicked on each name in the household, pulling up those record summaries just to see what they said. I was glad I did. One of the other names in the household (Edwin Sandon) was difficult to read and another user had entered in an alternate reading of the name, which only appeared on his record summary. Fortunately, I was able to send the person who made the correction a message by clicking on the “Contact this person” link on the corrections page.

Had I not viewed the record summaries for the others in the household I would have missed this possible connection.

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5 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Check the Record Summary, from Michael John Neill

  1. I, too, read the summaries. BUT…just recently I found that two of the three I was looking for had wrong information in the summaries. One said a 21 month old person was 21 years, another one mispelled the names of two children. SO…it takes the summary, but please check out the document also. You might be surprised. The summary is only as SOMEONE reads the original, and they don’t always read it correctly.

  2. How do you make a change? I’ve noticed bad readings on many of my family names.

  3. You can add a change by clicking through to an individual record summary. (After you find a list of all the hits for a particular name and click through to the one you are interested in, you will be on the individual record summary page.) To the right of that page, you’ll see a box with “Page Tools.” Click on “Comments and Corrections” and follow the prompts to add your correction.

    You can add an alternate name, which will then become searchable, or you can add comments with more information about the individual.

    Hope this is helpful!

  4. Michael, I made the note about the probable transcription error on the above record, but I don’t have any more information for you. I was browsing for a similar name. Sorry. Suz

  5. Michael, It would have been very helpful if you had shared the URL for the 1836-1926 Iowa State Census Collection.

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