To the anonymous person who took the time to note that in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, the “S. W. Staddard” living in Edmunds, Idaho, should actually be “S. W. Stoddard,” thank you.
We just launched an update to the 1910 U.S. census that includes new images and an improved index. The updated index combines a new index keyed from the new images with our old index and user suggestions. This provides more alternate names and increases your chances of finding your ancestor.
For example, after our update, the #1 result when I search the 1910 census for a Sheldon W. Stoddard living in Idaho is S. W. Staddard—the inadvertent alias for my grandfather. Last week, before the update, S. W. Staddard was nowhere near the top of the results list.
I’ve keyed a few records for the World Archives Project, and I’ve passed copies of images around the office here trying to decipher a name or a number, and I’m a great believer in a second and third pair of eyes. I can also tell you that your odds of getting a name right go way up when you know what the answer ought to be. Those faint lines seem to fill in, letters fatten out or straighten up, and the image seems clearer, legible—obvious.
That’s what both parts of this update to the 1910 census are about. First, we’re swapping out old images for new (here’s the new Sheldon):
But even better are the observations from those extra sets of eyes. Sometimes it just takes a fresh look, or maybe more experience with faded ink or antique handwriting, but the best eyes often belong to those who have more clues to bring to the puzzle. I don’t expect any indexer would just happen to know that S. W. Staddard was actually my grandfather Stoddard. But when somebody looking at the record knows that Sheldon William Stoddard was married to Maude, who was about 22 in 1910, and had a young son named Kenneth and lived in Edmunds, Idaho—when research moves a question beyond guesswork to a pretty sound conclusion—well, that’s the real power those extra eyes bring. A couple of folks even corrected the erroneous “E” given as a middle initial to my grandmother, Mable Christina (with a “C”) Hemsley.
There is one bit of glass-half-full news about the 1910 update: we have all the new images up, but the index is coming in two parts. We’re releasing these states now: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas. Look for the other states in 2011. If you’re like me, that means full-speed-ahead on the maternal side, while the paternals will just have to wait. But we figured why hold up the half that’s ready to go.
So if someone in your tree has turned up missing in 1910, give the census another look. Maybe your AWOL ancestor just needed the eyes of someone who knew the answer to bring them to light.