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Double, blind data entry indices

Olí Myrt here got some of the newbies going with the term "double, blind data entry."

SINGLE DATA ENTRY = typed into the computer by a single individual.

DOUBLE, BLIND DATA ENTRY = typed by one individual, then typed by a second individual, with the computer comparing each keystroke. Differences are noted in a report to the supervisor, so that all three can look at the original entry to come up with the best decipher of the letters in question.

SINGLE DATA ENTRY? Think of it this way. Would you prefer that an inexperienced individual type up an index of names for the marriage register in the province where you believe your elusive set of ancestors got married? There would be:

-- NO checking for typos

-- NO verifying accuracy

-- NO reviews to find skipped entries

The genealogical community is grateful to the thousands of individuals who have taken the time to walk a cemetery, peruse old newspapers, etc. Their resulting typescripts grace the library shelves, and many have been converted to microfilm at the Family History Library.

THE FACT REMAINS THAT WEíRE SIMPLY HUMAN and humans make mistakes.

-- What if the indexer makes a transcription error?

-- What if an entry is skipped?

-- What if the page is damaged, and therefore undecipherable?

-- What if names are strictly alphabetized, and not listed in the original order, particularly helpful with Griffinís Valuation & census records.

TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE. This is certainly true when it comes to doing an index. Throw in a computer to compare entries, and weíre talking "double, blind data entry." Itís a good thing!

YES, double, blind data entry increases the chances of receiving an accurate index, but it by no means rules out errors.

This is what we participated in years ago right here in Bradenton. We worked through Catholic Church records for Mexico City using the "Name Extraction Program" provided by the LDS Church. Our group of about 20 volunteers was given a large packet with a microfilm, photocopies of each page with instructions and a small software program called UDF to type our entries.

Each participant was given a packet of perhaps 20 pages to work through, typing each entry on his computers. The packet and accompanying floppy disks was returned to the supervisor. This was called "A."

Finished packets & floppy disks were re-distributed to different volunteers, who by now were getting very familiar with the handwriting of the parish priest. We then set about to again extract every christening, marriage & burial entry, as part "B" of the double entry system. We could not "see" what the other person had typed, hence, the "blind" term. If we ran into problems, we could get together with the supervisor and other team members to look at the original microfilm, make reverse photocopies (black background, white letters), magnify, and consult with other indexers to determine the correct interpretation of the handwriting to complete part B. Once the entire project was completed, we shipped the entire package back to Salt Lake to be included in their larger database.

I worked on the Mexico records, my parents worked on the big Ellis Island records project which resulted in: We lived in Florida and Washington State at the time.

Now this process is becoming easier through the use of the internet at FamilySearch Indexing, From what Iíve heard from participants, one goes to the website, logs in, and is presented with about 30 minutes of images to index right there on the computer screen.

Currently, they are working on Georgia Death Certificates 1919-1927.

This means the distribution process is greatly facilitated. It doesnít depend on snail mail, and other personal items such as participants being required to come to coordination meetings.

At this point, participation is limited to the test group. One must be pre-approved to receive a user name and password to work through this group of records. Other information on the website explains that following this trial period, "worldwide" participation will be encouraged.

Iíve offered my name via email to to be notified when the volunteer program is opened up to a wider group. Our area in Florida has a large pool of computer-savvy genealogists. I hope we can encourage participation by making presentations at genealogical society meetings in the region.

I see this as a worthwhile alternative to playing computer Solitaire.

NO, I am SERIOUS. A 30 minute session of FamilySearch Indexing would be a lot more fulfilling! You know what I mean?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt      :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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