Friday, June 12, 2009

Ancestry and the wiki-census movement

Historian Charles Levi on the census launch that I noted yesterday:
Oddly, at the same time Ancestry was doing this, a volunteer group also indexed the 1901 and 1911 census, and their version is available free on:

My experience is that this site has fewer typographical errors than the Ancestry data, and it also allows individuals to suggest corrections based on their own research. Census takers were notorious for making spelling errors (and transcribers sometimes have trouble with the handwriting).

It is not as comprehensive as the Ancestry site.

And has provided the 1881 census on-line, free and searchable for years.

These digital resources would have been a great help to me years ago when I was doing my thesis (I used the 1871 on-line Ontario index, which was available in the late 1990s on-line and searchable by head of household only). I'm not sure how much quantitative history is still being done -- it would be a shame if it stopped now because there is a wonderful 20-year window open now for historians to exploit these on-line resources before the price of electricity makes it as prohibitive as the price of computing was in the 1970s and 1980s.
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