Ancestry World Archives Project Keying Standards Overhaul

Today we have some very exciting news for new and seasoned indexers alike! The Ancestry World Archives Project Keying Standards (AWAKS) have been extensively updated. These standards serve as general keying standards for all projects, only superseded by the Wiki Article Project Instructions.

  • New to indexing and want to know the basics of how to index a project?
  • Curious about what Collection Type you are currently indexing?
  • Is your current indexing situation not covered in the Wiki Article project Instructions?
  • Want to know what ‘Key as Seen,’ ‘Completeness’ and ‘Data Form Types’ mean?

Head on over to the Ancestry World Archives keying Standards to find out!

We hope every one will take a look at the new standards page as it is likely to clarify some points of proper indexing as well as provide some context on why we ask indexers to do some of things they do. You may even find some new standards, or nuanced standards from what you are used to.

Thank you for all of your efforts in making these important collections available to the world. You are helping people make discoveries in their family history.

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Reader Comments

Sean, can you please confirm that the following general rules have been changed:
1. If a name, place name, etc, appears in all upper case (capital letters) on the image, we are now to key it in all caps where we would previously have adjusted the case.
2. If the year is only shown as 2 digits, and there are no specific project instructions about it, we should now key as 2 digits instead of expanding to 4 where possible as we have done up to now.
3. The prefixes Mr and Mrs are now to be keyed in the given name field if there is no prefix field, and suffixes Junior, Jr, Senior, Sr, are to be keyed in the surname field if there is no suffix field. (Up till now, we would ignore these if there is no prefix or suffix field.)

These are big changes and need to be highlighted so everyone knows about them.

I have included these and some more questions in my comments on the message board thread about the new keying standards.

My other big question (also on the thread in more detail) is whether the new standards apply to existing projects, or only to new ones?

I have another question with respect to keying names as seen. Some of the older hand-written records use the “f” symbol for “s”, especially in names where the s is doubled. For example I have a record that appears to be for “Joel Crofs”, but it’s clear that this and several others are supposed to be “Cross” as the surname (or some other doubled-s name). Should we key it with the double s? I haven’t seen this referenced in instructions anywhere, but I might have missed it.

Chris, that is not a letter “f” but an old form of the letter “s” and should be keyed as “s”.

If you look carefully the “f” usually loops to the right whereas the old “s” usually loops to the left.

What about a list of Sisters in a nunnery? I put the “sister in the prefix field, but sometimes the name sound like it should be a given name and some it sounds like it is a surname, which field should I use?

Kate: As you probably know, many of these questions have been addressed in the message boards.

1. If the image is in all caps, it will need to be keyed that way unless the Wiki Article for some reason instructs you too.
2. Yes, 2 digit years do not need to be expanded, though I would not mark it incorrect if it was keyed properly with being inferred.
3. Yes, if there is no prefix and suffix field, you may enter those listed in the standards.

I will highlight these changes for sure.

Finally, these will only apply to new projects, though if done in the old ones, they need not be marked wrong.

Thanks all. I know it’s an “S” but it’s not exactly keyed as seen. Since it doesn’t look like a modern “S”. I just wanted to be sure.