USGenWeb Free Census Project Help, What does being a "transcriber" mean?

The USGenWeb Free Census Project was founded to put all of the U.S. census records online in a standard format, where everyone can use them for research, FREE of charge. Like everything we do in the USGenWeb, this is being done in the spirit of sharing, and you now have your chance to help us by sharing your resources and time to assure that all future researchers will have the benefit of all of the census enumerations at the click of the mouse.

Transcribing a census is an incredible gift to the present and future researcher. It requires dedication and patient attention to detail. It is a large undertaking and the first-timer should start with one roll of film so as to not get overwhelmed. Our definition of transcribing is to transfer data from microfilm or other original document into text format using one of our data entry forms.

You must have the materials to transcribe from, or access to them. While we do furnish the software, WE DO NOT HAVE CENSUS RECORDS TO GIVE YOU. To assist you in obtaining the census materials to use in your transcription, please visit our Census Location Page.

Your best source of information will be your State Census Coordinator. Please feel free to write that person with any questions at any time. Please keep them informed as to how you are progressing. If something comes up and for whatever reason you cannot finish your assignment, please let them know.

To assist you in your endeavor we have a Census FAQs Message Board for your specific questions related to volunteering to transcribe and/or proofread.

The Census Project has mailing lists where you can share information and ideas with other transcribers. These include: the USGWARCH-CEN-L list, USGW-ACP-CENTRANS-L and the USGWARCH-CART-L to assist transcribers in their transcriptions.

We provide our volunteer transcribers with either a database program (which we prefer you use if possible) or a template that has been created so that our file managers can convert them to the standardized text output to meet the goals of the project.

We have two database programs:
1. CART (only for years 1850, 1860, and 1870) PC Only
2. CENTRANS (currently for 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920) MAC & PC [The programmer is writing updates which will eventually include all years.]

We have templates for all years and some specialty census records. The common ones are MSExCel Spreadsheet, MSWorks Spreadsheet, and Tab Text Templates. For MAC users we have a coordinator who specializes in MAC's and will help you with those templates.

We have templates for all years and some specialty census records. [These are available by request from Maggie Stewart. Please use "templates" as the subject of your email and include what year and type of template that you need.]

About Standard Format:

To standardize means to bring into conformity with a standard.

The elements of an Census Project standardized transcription from the transcribers standpoint include:
1. Every field filled in
2. All appropriate blanks filled in (not *all* blanks are needed to be filled in. ..like a wife's occupation but.. anywhere there are ditto's.. or presumed dittos'.. the field must be filled in completely.

To assist you in your endeavor we have help pages where there is a page specific for every year with probably more than you ever wanted to know about that census year included.


When transcribing the census, MAKE A BACKUP COPY!

Census Project since 1997

A Gift of the Past for the Future! Started in February, 1997, The USGenWeb Free Census Project is an all-volunteer project to transcribe census records in a standard format in order to make them available to genealogical researchers on the Internet.

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