Experienced genealogists know that even original records contain errors. I found a perfect example of that today.
The 1940 Census records for the State of Maine has now been indexed and is available online. I had previously searched most of the towns where my relatives lived in Maine by looking at the unindexed images and simply turning the pages manually. Most of my relatives lived in small towns in 1940, so finding them wasn't too difficult.
The one exception was my parents: they lived in a larger town that filled about 200 pages of hand-written records. Since I believe I already know all the information to be found about my parents and my two older siblings who were alive in 1940, I was in no rush to look at those records. Thanks to the new indexes, I had a chance to find the records today and was surprised to find my brother listed by the census taker (enumerator) as a 6-year-old DAUGHTER of my parents! Yes, that's an error in the original record, not the index.
I am sure my brother wouldn't be too pleased. He was as macho a man as I ever met, an outdoorsman and a true "man's man." He is now deceased, so I won't have an opportunity to tell him about being listed as a girl. However, I can tell you and I will also ask you to pass on the word to all new genealogists: even the original records can be wrong.
A second problem is the spelling of my sister's name. It is correct in the original, handwritten census records but the indexers mis-spelled her first name. At least that is a modern error, not a problem with the original record.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others. Tweet it, share it on Google+, Facebook or on your preferred social network.
Republishing of this article in newsletters, blogs, and elsewhere is allowed and encouraged, with a few minor restrictions. Details may be found at http://goo.gl/hoHH1.
Of course, if you haven’t done so already, you should join my email newsletter mailing list to stay current on my latest articles and announcements. You can also cancel at any time within seconds.