Posted by Paul Rawlins on October 15, 2010 in Collections

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.


  1. dannhill

    As a keyer/arbitrator for the World Archives Project, I find myself making corrections to the names, adding the line numbers, & places of birth. This happens with other collections besides the census. I think it is because of the arbitrating, but I have always been a ‘proof-reader’ in my day-to-day activities, too. As the saying goes, ‘Every little bit helps’.
    I guess I’ll have to wait until 2011 for the Oregon and Washington improved 1910 Census.

  2. BobNY

    Finally, after multiple requests, a response as to how certain long-standing datasets have been updated. Someone is obviously reading the message boards and getting feedback on these issues. It would be nice, however, to note in the postings on the message boards from the paying member that the information has been provided.

    Now, can you do the same for “New York County Supreme Court Naturalization Petition Index, 1907-24”? How, exactly, did you update a dateset that has been around for 10 years? The answer would keep people from needlessly re-searching for missing targets.

  3. Arthur Granbury

    Let me see if I understand. You KNOW that ‘Stoddard’ is mis-indexed as ‘Staddard’ – and yet you’re boasting that the latter name is now the #1 search result?

  4. Arthur Granbury

    “The updated index combines a new index keyed from the new images with our old index”

    This is an absolultely abhorrent practice. First of all, you’re artificially and illicitly boosting your advertised number of records – no matter that you own up to it.

    Secondly, by including the old, error-ridden index (why would you have re-indexed it, otherwise?), you’ve not made it easier to find the needle in the haystack, you’ve just made the haystack twice as big.


  5. Carol A. H.

    It does sound a bit like there are now more records to search through in the 1910 census for the states mentioned. A bigger haystack as Arthur put it. I will reserve judgment on that.

    I know the 1910 census for some states is/was a nightmare. I made many additions/corrections on people I was absolutely sure. Some of them were so bad, only a near relative would know what was the truth.

    But one should never expect to get the perfect results without going through a few pages at the very least. A record could be very clear and be wrong. The provider of the information to the census taker may have been way off. Good research should include crazy possibilities that may not show up for several pages. That has been my experience. But I wouldn’t go through a gazillion records; I’d change my approach or search parameters.

  6. Jade

    The search engine should have found the mis-indexed ‘Staddard’.

    It has more trouble with the items in WV for which one indexer always wrote “Benjamine” for “Benjamin”.

    Not to mention “Hep” for “Hess,” and “Snodgrap” for “Snodgrass.”

    These user-suggested additions to the database do not make up for poor quality control in the initial indexing.

  7. Bob

    Why aren’t all the gallery photos on the Family trees showing up? Also, I seem unable to upload photos. I tried one 3 times with no luck. Also, the 1910 census for Johnstown, Cambria, PA still seems to be missing several pages – a repair I requested about 3 years ago.


  8. Bob

    Sorry to be a pest, but only certain photos do not appear on my tree. Some of the individuals’ photographs are perfectly OK, and others – particularly those that are copies of newsclips – seem not to upload or be visible. Instead there is a “boxed x” where the photo should be, and clicking on that does not make the photo come up.
    Best Wishes, Bob.

  9. Jade

    Bob, your #9, you probably know this already but may be worth checking filenames of images that won’t display. Non-alpha-numeric characters such as # may prevent display. Have seen this occur on other sites.

  10. BEE

    ancestryanne (View posts) Posted: 11 Oct 2010 10:23PM GMT Classification: Query
    Surnames: We have identified the issue with the wrong name appearing in the Return to Button, when you do a search from your tree. If you click on the button, it will take you back to the correct, person, the name just sometimes appears incorrectly.
    This should be fixed completely by the end of the week. NOT!

    Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

    Anne Mitchell

  11. Bee Re: #11

    I didn’t think it had been fixed either but I had to shut down my systems last night as I was re-arranging my “office”.

    When I started them back up the “wrong name” problem was gone.

    Have you tried a complete shut down and re-boot? That may help.

  12. Sherry

    Bee RE:#11

    I feel your pain! And yes, I have done a complete shut down and re-boot (several times), cleaned out my cache several times, etc. I am now getting angrier several times over this issue continuing to show up. Could someone in technical services PLEASE work on this wrong-name-popping-up issue??

  13. Bob

    The photo issue has stopped. Don’t know why it happened, but it appears to have been a glitch at my own level, and not Ancestry’s. Thanks for the suggestions.

  14. BEE

    I always “clear cache and history”, so I had high hopes that shutting down and rebooting would do the trick……NOPE
    but thanks for the tip, Andy…….
    I’m sure looking forward to 2011! Maybe along with all the new 1910 census images all these problems will be solved, including those missing WWI Draft Registration images I’ve been waiting for since…. the year???

  15. Mary

    I’ve lost count of the suggestions/corrections I have given on both Ancestry and FindMyPast.

    At least FMP email me with confirmation if they agree with my input and CHANGE the index fairly quickly (none of this “show both versions” business).

    One other thing – I’d love to be able to offer suggestions on the hilarious, if not downright ludicrously interpreted occupations us Scots get on your Census transcripts. I have yet to obtain an image of these from Scotlands People where there is any excuse for the mistakes!

  16. Susan

    Now can you fix the Canadian census index?

    Lets search for that famous Canadian, Sir John A. Macdonald, in the census records:

    Result – 1871 census:
    Name: John A Macdonald
    Birth: abt 1816 – Scotland
    Residence: Ontario
    Residence: Ottawa Ward, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    When I add the record to the tree I get:
    Residence date: 1871
    Residence place: Ontario, Canada
    What happened to the ‘Ottawa Ward, Ottawa’?

    Result – 1881 census:
    Name: John Macdonald
    Birth: 1815 – Scotland
    Residence: St Georges Ward, Ottawa City, Ontario

    When I add the record to the tree I get:
    Residence date: abt 1881
    Residence place: Ottawa City, Ontario, Canada
    What happened to the ‘St. Georges Ward’? About 1881???

    Result – 1891 census:
    Name: John MacKdonaldier
    Spouse: Lady Susan MacKdonaldier
    Birth: abt 1815 – Scotland
    Residence: Ottawa Ward, Ottawa City, Ontario

    When I add the record to the tree I get:
    Residence date: 1891
    Residence place: Ottawa City, Ontario, Canada
    What happened to the ‘Ottawa Ward’?

  17. Hazel Clack

    Don’t know if this is pertinent here, but I have been contacting Ancestry for years regarding issues with records that can not be merged, especially the marriage and death records in GA, the censuses where ALL family members can not be merged at the same time…and the list goes on and on. The response I have gotten is that I should put my data into an online tree (I use FTM 2009)and I wouldn’t have the problem as there are issues with FTM’s connection to the records. Well, I chose not to put my data online. Ancestry put out the FTM so why don’t they fix the problem!!! Right now, after searching through thousands of records and finally getting to the one I needed, (Ancestry continues not to filter out unnecessary records) I find I CAN NOT even access it!! Nothing will open! However, the link for this, at the bottom of the page opened! Family history is my passion but I’m way past the frustration level with Ancestry. And those ‘New’ 1910 records, well GA was not one of the 1st states chosen and I’ve been told by Ancestry that GA is not a priority state!! so maybe the other states to be added in 2011 are also not priority states! I agree that Ancestry has inflated their # of records. If they discounted duplicate records, the unreadable records that were made unreadable due to a lack of discriminating between the ones that needed it and the ones that didn’t…they put them all through the ‘light process’ when they didn’t need it, etc, etc, their #’s wouldn’t be as high. I also believe that they use these record ‘improvements to come’ as a way of sucking people into membership renewals. I’ve spent the past year not being able to merge pertinent records into the FTM, was told there was a problem with the FTM program and offered the Newer version at a discount price. Why should anyone with the same issues have to pay Ancestry for a Newer version after they say THEY have a problem but the newer FTM has the “Patch” that corrects the problem!! Give me a break! I wasn’t born yesterday!

  18. Jade

    Susan, #17 — Ancestry drops the full place designation in many things, even where they were indexed, especially in Census enumerations. This goes for the US as well as Canadian census enumerations. It is quite aggravating.

  19. BobNY

    Another reason why the partial extract that ACOM insists on calling a record is exactly what it is — a partial, often mis-transcribed or irrelevant extract.

  20. Jade

    BobNY, your #20 — The full place designation is often dropped in the attach-to-tree-person encoding, even where included in the extract.

    On the other hand, encoding for the full location may be present when the location given in the extract is wrong (such as many USA WWI draft registration cards where the wrong County is given, and innumerable US Federal Census and other Census enumerations).

    This is quite aside from the many erroneous extracts concerning places of birth, such as the infamous extracts giving “Iowa” as place of birth in the 1850 US Federal Census enumeration. These write out “Iowa” for the abbreviation “Ia.” which nearly always was for “Indiana” in that enumeration.

    Unfortunately no user-correction method is available for wrong places given in these items.

  21. Mariana

    Wow, these comments are negative. I just need to say THANK YOU!!!! The 1910 census is basically the only thing that I’ve been missing for a key person in my family. And today, after seeing your post I went and entered the same information I’ve been entering all along –

    ‘Nicholas Anastasi’

    First record that came up ?

    ‘Weshdar Austin’

    Same person? yes. After looking at the image, which is in pretty poor condition (to pardon the transcriber), it’s clearly my grandfather’s family… complete with Uncle Tony who moved in for that year before he got married.

    I don’t know what you did to the index, or how you did it… but it worked for me! Keep up the good work.

  22. Paul Rawlins


    Ah, looks like I wasn’t very clear. Let me see if I can explain a little better.

    I know (or am at least fairly certain) that Staddard should be Stoddard. But I think the handwriting is vague enough that without more information, no indexer is going to be able to make a definitive call based on the information he or she has, which is what is written on the page itself. So that’s where the suggested alternates come in.

    As for boosting our record numbers, the alternate names are not included in our counts. The new index becomes the basis for the count and searches. Where there are differences either from the old index or from user suggestions, those names are now included as alternates. There won’t be a question on every name, so the haystack won’t be twice as big, and hopefully, the additional info will simply help a name surface nearer the top of a search, as it did in my case.

    Ideally, we’d have every name in an index right, but handwriting, spelling, and image quality are always going to toss a few wrenches in the works. Going back to make new indexes when new images become available and adding alternates suggested by people with more info at hand than the indexers are just two ways of trying to up the odds in a search. Though there still may not be a definitive answer, which, speaking to Mary’s question, is why we show both.

    I hope that explains things a little better.

  23. Michele

    The 1910 Census –
    I was able to correct my great-grandfather’s name from John J McCormick to John Q, and his wife’s name from Amelia to Cornelia. They still show up wrong with the pencil showing my change as a user suggestion or whatever it says. The third name, Clay E McCormick I changed to Emmett C. I understand that’s a mighty big change, and it is NOT shown on the smaller census sheet. I have received dozens of “Thank You’s” from Ancestry for spending hours (when I was getting bored with my tree) adding house numbers, correcting names that were totally ridiculous, and OBVIOUS. I would like to be able to say so to those lovely folks who took the original census and those who did the original transcribing. One trick I’ve learned is never change a date back a year from what you have because the census taker always had them wrong, especially in Canada. Why was that?
    One more gripe and I’ll stop. I have my mother’s name(duh), grandmother’s maiden name, the groom’s name, the date of the wedding, but Ancestry won’t confirm it, or can’t. But when I get the suggestion to be more specific I want to throw the laptop out the window! Tomorrow I will be calling every county in California until I get the info, and then Ancestry, I will be challenging you to find it. I have free long distance, and no idea what the paid researchers charge.
    Lastly, I would LOVE to work on your project of figuring out what names should be. I have that knack.
    Oops, now one more: It’s IRVIN Henry Bell, not Ewing, not Erwin, not anything but IRVIN. The census taker was not his, nor my Mother’s, not the McCormick’s relative, but I am. Check my tree? Hey, now that’s a good idea for verification to see if someone knows what they are changing is correct, isn’t it?
    Sincerely frustrated, but still

  24. Michele

    To #6 Carol A. H.

    I have to disagree. When you give totally accurate detail you shouldn’t have to expect to go through a few pages at least(of 50 names) to find who you are looking for. Not when your information is totally accurate, no plus or minus a year, etc.
    At one point I was nearly hysterical suspecting there had been no wedding, but I have the exact same problem with both parents first marriages, and their marriage to each other… I just log on every morning, go to my Mom’s page and say “Hi Mom, you get married yet?” Laughing helps 🙂

    Best of luck to all!

  25. Michele,

    Why challenge Ancestry over something they may have no access to?

    The card catalog shows two California index databases available:

    If you are expecting to find all the records you need on Ancestry then I’m afraid you will be sadly disappointed.

    Not all records are online- much less on line at Ancestry.

  26. Paul,

    Exactly who produced the new index for the 1910 census? Was it done by Ancestry or was it done by FamilySearch.Org and then given to Ancestry as part of the 2008 agreement?

    I ask because I want to place the blame for the errors in the new index squarely where it belongs.

    There are two errors I’ve seen that are so outrageous that I find it hard to believe that a double blind keying method was used.

    Perhaps in the future it would be wise of Ancestry to let us know exactly who produced what as far as the indexes go. We may be screaming at Ancestry for something another organization did.

  27. BEE

    It’s amazing that a {old} search for a fellow named Stanley, born in Poland 1890 and residing in Pittsburgh, Allegheny, PA would bring up as the first choice, a woman named Rose,living in IL, born there the same year as Stanley – oh, I forgot – both their last names start with a Z! Yes, I added gender and year of immigration – why ask for this information if if it’s not going to be used?}- a lot of names starting with Z, but not a single Stanley!
    I know, Andy, you explained all of this before, and PA wasn’t on this “update list” anyway, but
    I still thinks it’s ancestry’s way of trying…. to get us to stop using “old search”!

  28. Bonnie

    Warning to anyone trying to create books from an tree (using My Canvas). The 1910 Census image and associate data no longer show up as a page in the books. This problem just started for me when this “improvement” was rolled out. Spent hours editing a book only to realize that none of my ancestors had their 1910 data anymore.

    I have to wonder if ever actually tests the impact of their “improvements” before rolling them out. Seems like every time they update, I have nothinb but problems.

  29. Virginia

    #29 Bonnie
    On the message board: Ancestry Site Comments, there have been issues reported regarding the 1910 Census.

    I have also seen some very WEIRD returns…my “subject” was listed as a sister-in-law in the WRONG household. When I pulled up the cenusu image, she was living with her married sister and the family she was “reported” to be with was actually on the same page but several families below.

    That being said, have you gone back to the 1910 census and completed a new search…to see if your family is still listed correctly?

    Also, the two examples given on the message board were both in New York State…my relative was also residing in New York State????


  30. Marty

    I’ve been finding that the 1910 Census transcripts for Long Island, NY need work. I have found
    in several instances that family members are missing from the transcript and in one instance from the list of other people on the page, even though they are listed in the Census. Also people from other families on the Census page are at times mixed in with my ancestor’s transcript.

  31. Virginia

    Andy #31
    Yes I knew about your notifying Ancestry…thank you.

    I was just giving a head’s up to those who follow the blog…many do not read the message boards.

    Also wanted Bonnie to check out the problems she spoke about in the off chance they were part of the 1910 Census fiasco others have noticed.


  32. Michele

    Andy Hatchett re: #26

    Ancestry has found 3 wedding announcements in newspapers for me, during the 40’s, hmmm but not in Ca., now that I think of it. Perhaps you are right.
    I clicked on your name to send a non-blog note; mighty interesting. I think you, Sir are a ringer, and either way you shouldn’t be blogging with paying customers without being identified as an employee. If you have been identified as such, then you have my apologies.
    BTW: I found nothing on her parents either, which is why I think you are a ringer and that Ancestry should be looking into your interests here.


  33. Michele Re: #35

    Believe me- I’m not an Ancestry employee. The very thought of that give Ancestry management nightmares!

    I’m just a user like you.

    I have to admit that I’m curious as to what interesting stuff you found by clicking on my name that would lead you to believe I was a “ringer”.

    As to the wedding info, in your original post you mentioned calling California counties which led me to believe you were looking for actual marriage documents- not announcements in newspapers.

  34. Lila Garner

    Updating is good, but didn’t work out so well for the 1840 census of Geauga County, Ohio, where I could find Almanza Best?r at first look. The update calls him Almaura Bester. I corrected his first name, later found out that Bestor is the correct spelling. So he can be found again, with my correction.

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