Ancestry.com Wiki:World Archives Project: Alabama, Surname Files, 1901–2005
Feel free to add to or edit information in this discussion tab as necessary. Please take time to become familiar with the World Archives Keying Standards and be sure to read all instructions on the main project page. (Please note that in case of a discrepancy, project level instructions always trump general keying standards.)
Extra Keying Helps
Common Keying Errors Found by Reviewers
Do NOT enter names in the Content form type if they do not have a vital date connected to them (birth, marriage or death). Use only the date that appears in the article, do NOT use a date that has been handwritten or stamped on the sheet.
If there is no content in the article then please change the form type to either Cover page etc., Image with no data or Duplicate Image, which ever applies.
Family cards are frequently not being keyed properly. Family Card example: http://screencast.com/t/gQToQOmiljD .
- John Collier (husband) is married to Anne Eppes (wife's maden name).
- Record 1 should be John Collier married to Anne Eppes, with birth, death, and marriage.
- Record 2 should be Anne Eppes married to John Collier with birth, death, and marriage. The marriage date, in John's info at top, should be used for both records, with spouse name on both records. Record 2 for spouse is only needed if there is Birth / Death info included for Wife.
- Record 3, etc can be for John's subsequent marriages, if other spouse names are specified. John is listed as primary, with birth and death dates, and other wives are listed in spouse area 'with no marriage dates', unless specified.
- no record for parents should be created since there are no dates for the parents.
- Records for children should be created only when they have dates.
Given Name should include the middle name or initial, if given.
Spouse Maiden Name should NOT be 'assumed' as the last name of the spouse and leave the Spouse Surname blank. Spouse Surname should be entered as stated in the image. If maiden name is also given or can be determined, then it should be entered in the Spouse Maiden Name.
Please do NOT key every name in an article, only those which have a complete or part of a vital date (birth, marriage or death) which should also be keyed.
Questions and Answers
If you have a keying question that is not answered on the project page or in any of the information above, click “EDIT” and ask it here. (If you click on Rich Editor you won't have to worry about formatting your entry.) Then click “WATCH” at the top right on this page and you will be notified via email when an update has been made.
Q: Are partial dates accepted for the person to be keyed? E.G. if it states the person died 11th May but there is no year.
Q: What if it only has the month, does that still count as a partial date?
- A: Yes, that would count.
Q: Many times an obituary states that a person died on a "Sunday" or a "Monday". Even though a death date is not listed, a date of death can be determined from the date of the obituary and the day of the week the death occurred. May this calculated date be keyed?
- A:We don't calculate to get dates unless project instructions dictate otherwise. ALSO hand written dates on images may not be used to "date" events listed. --Rhmaynard (talk) 09:32, 13 May 2016 (MDT)
Q: When an engagement is written and it includes the date of when the wedding will occur, should we use that as the wedding date of the two people mentioned?
- A: Yes, if the future wedding date is listed it can be used.
Q: When an article discusses a couple celebrating their golden anniversary on a specific date are we to use that date as their marriage date? Sometimes parties are thrown for a golden anniversary but it could not be the specific marriage date.
- A: No, unless it states the date they got married do not use the date of the party.
Q: I've come across several Bible page entries of dates and family information but all handwritten and scribbled in... do I enter this as content and decipher the scribbles as best I can or file all these kind of data as cover page?
- A: Yes, do your best to discern the writing in the bible. If you can determine what type of event, when and who it should be keyed.
Q: Can we use the printed date in the lead on the newspaper article, such as SELMA, ALA, Oct 16, if it says 'died on this date'? (Hope that makes sense...)
- A: Yes, you may use this date. This would be like keying the newspaper date when the entry says "Instant." Seanbmc (talk) 09:37, 2 June 2016 (MDT)
Q: Can we infer a death from an article that reports a person missing in action? Here is what the article says "...was reported missing on Dec 30 and has since been declared killed in action". So would Dec 30 be the death date to use for this person ?
Q: When it says vital date does it mean each person mentioned in a image must have a vital date associated with them? For example: In an obituary where it lists the date died do we only enter information about the deceased and their spouse on the same line or do we also enter the information of the other people mentioned in the article. Thank you.
- A Yes, it is only the person that the vital date applies to and a spouse, if mentioned, that should be keyed, all others should be ignored.
Q: Frequently in a death announcement it will state the deceased in a "native of .....". Should this location be used as place of birth?
- A Yes, a native of or born in can be used as the place of birth.
Q: Keying Example (example 2) in regard to Nathan and Kate Burton: It shows that when Nathan's info is entered, the marriage info is not repeated in regard to Kate. Some keyers follow this, others are repeating the info for the spouse, when the spouse has unique info. Should we accept both ways in reviewing?
- A: Yes, accept both.
Q: I have some pages that list names alphabetically in several columns per page. Each last name is only listed once, and everyone with that surname is listed below by first name only. The top of the page is cut off, so I can't see the last name of the first listings in each column. I can tell, however, that the last name must start with "Clou," for example, because it is between "Clough" and "Clouser." Should I key these last names as "Clou*" or leave the surname blank, or not key these names at all?
- A: Assuming there are vital dates attached to these, please key the information that is available. If you know the surname is cutoff, key what you can and add ?? marks on the end.
Q: When I find a record for a man with more than one wife, do I just pick one of the women to list as his spouse? Or do I create multiple records for the same man, where each record lists a different spouse? (In this case, there are no marriage dates, or other birth/death dates for the wives, so I can't key separate records in the women's names - I only have birth/death dates for the man.)
- A: Yes, create multiple records for each spouse.
Q: I have come across an obituary that has no date, but it lists the individual's age. Do I key this as a content page or do I mark it as a cover page? (16 Jun 2016)
Q: Are all hand written documents to be keyed as cover pages or if they have dates do they get keyed as content pages? I ask because all of the sample images for the content page are typed documents. (16 Jun 2016)
- A: If a record is "handwritten" with a vital date, it should be keyed, i.e. if the whole record is handwritten and it is obvious the information is congruous. The instruction to not key handwritten or stamped dates applies to avoiding keying dates that are incongruous with the actual record being keyed. Seanbmc (talk) 10:48, 16 June 2016 (MDT)
Q: What are we supposed to use for a page that appears only with a name on it? Image with no data or Cover page?
Q: Where do we key the maiden name of a woman who is the primary person in the record? (17 Jun 2016)
- A: Unfortunately, this name will not be keyed.
Q: If I find a woman with a maiden and married name and is primary I have been keying both into surname field. This is according to the keying standards and what I have been doing for years. Incorrect?
- A: In the current standards it states, "If an alias field has not been included in a project and alias names are found, the name should be ignored. ... If an alias field has not been included in a project and alias names are found, the name should be ignored." For this project there is not an alias field for the primary individual but there is for the spouse. So if the record is a death record for a female and her husband's name is also included you could enter her maiden name in the Surname field as her married surname would be included in the spouse surname field.
Q: If a vital date is provided as ca. (circa) 1857 do we enter it or should it be listed as a cover page if no other vital date is provided?
- A: If this vital date is connected to a person then yes, it can be used.
Q: How do we key information that is spread over two obviously consecutive pages? Example: The first page lists the names of 13 children and their dates of birth. The first line on the second page is: "Of these 13 children, the first five were born in Columbia Co, Ga, & the remaining eight were born in Tuscaloosa Co, Ala..." Do I go back to the previous page and add the places of birth? There are no vital dates on the second page, just the places of birth.
- A: No, do not key information from one page to the next.
Q: If date of death is entered as Armistice Day, can I enter November 11 or is that considered inferring a date?
Q: Say a place of birth or death is listed as "near Fort Deposit," or "at the Davis Plantation west of Fort Deposit." Would the location be keyed as Fort Deposit in both examples, as the (presumably) nearest town?
- A: Since it lists "Fort Deposit" and "Fort Deposit" is a geographical location, this should be keyed. Seanbmc (talk) 09:04, 6 July 2016 (MDT)
Q: Example: Obituary is dated Jan. 11, and death is given as "Monday." I know we can not calculate the date of death, but can we at least key the month as January, since the 11th is more than a week into the month, therefore "Monday" must have been in January as well?
- A: (Quoting above) We don't calculate to get dates unless project instructions dictate otherwise. Seanbmc (talk) 09:04, 6 July 2016 (MDT)
Q: Spouse Surname should be entered as husband's name or maiden name, depending on if it is a marriage notice or other notice, correct? Spouse surname should not left blank when Maiden name is being entered, should it?
- A: If I understand correctly you are asking if when you enter a maiden name if you should put the married name in the Surname field - yes? If so, then all of the names that are on the record should be entered if possible and yes, if you have the maiden and married name each should be entered.
Q: In review I just came across a DAR Index page with hundreds of names with birth, death, and marriage records. Most of the data is readable. Should all of these names be keyed?
- A: As long as there is a qualifying date for each person, yes each person should be keyed. You can post a sample page to the message board, if you want someone to look at what you're seeing. --Rhmaynard (talk) 08:19, 5 August 2016 (MDT)
Q: If an obituary states that a person has been a resident of a city/town for the past so and so years than states that the said person died at family residence (with street address given right after) would I put the name of that city/town as place of death or is that inferring since city/town of residence isn't stated as part of the address afterwards?
- A: Please do not infer place of death based on other information found within the obituary. Gigivs (talk) 10:46, 10 October 2016 (MDT)
Q: Which date do you use for a marriage if you are given date of license issue and date of license return?
- A: If both dates exist for the same couple, key the date of license return as the marriage date. The date of license return is when the person who performed the marriage confirms the marriage has taken place, and may be closer to the actual marriage date than the license issue date (the state of Alabama requires a license must be used within 30 days of its issue). Gigivs (talk) 10:46, 10 October 2016 (MDT)
Q: I am keying a page that contains one article and one death notice, both (presumably) for the same person. Both items list a birth date, but the year is different - one lists 1818 and one lists 1820. Do I use the birth date from the death notice, or do I add two records, one for each birth date?
- A: Please key as two separate records. Thanks!
Q: In a death notice for a Catholic nun would you use her religious name, i.e., Sister ...., or her Christian name?
- A: Key as seen preferably. The obituary probably used her Nun name, so; Prefix : Sister, Given: (Whatever her name is e.g. Margaret Mary), Surname: Mark Blank (Cntl+B) unless her real surname appears. If her birth name was also mentioned, that would be keyed and her "Nun" name would be treated as an alias.* This project does not have fields for aliases, so it would be ignored. --Rhmaynard (talk) 09:15, 9 January 2017 (MST)*edited Annafechter (talk) 10:23, 10 January 2017 (MST)
Q: I have two pages that list the descendants of a settler. The second page continues from the first; on the second page, only the children's first and middle names are listed (with dates of birth, etc). Can I leave surname blank since this is a continuation of the previous page, or should I key the names as if middle name was the surname? An example is:a) Eliza Washington, born 14th November, 1852 (from the previous page, I know that she is the daughter of Benjamin Huger.) FN=Eliza, SN=Washington, or FN=Eliza Washington, SN=<blank>
- A: Please key FN=Eliza, SN=Washington to keep how names are being keyed consistent. Thank you! Gigivs (talk) 16:23, 26 January 2017 (MST)
Q: One of the images I have in a set list a bunch of census information. It states the year of the census the family members their ages and place of birth, should these be ignored or can they be entered seems it is possible to figure out their birth year? --Scarletfern (talk) 04:13, 2 May 2017 (MDT)--Scarletfern (talk) 04:13, 2 May 2017 (MDT)
A: We don't calculate to get dates unless project instructions dictate otherwise. So, these family members would not be keyed. --Rhmaynard
Q: Sometimes a name appears as Mary Smith Burton. I am tempted to assume that "Smith" is her maiden name, but wonder if it should be keyed as a given name Mary Smith, such as you would if it said Mary Ann? Or should Smith be keyed as a maiden name? Also, I wish there was a column for maiden name in addition to surname in the first place it asks for surname!
- A: Key the given name as “Mary Smith,” and the surname as “Burton.” Gigivs (talk) 10:46, 10 October 2016 (MDT)
Q: What if 3 images make up one document with some of the information for one person is on one page and some on another? If only one page is keyed at a time, some people will be missing completely. For example, the name is on page one and the vital stat for them is on page 2
- A: If the name and date are not found on the same image, please do not key the information found on the second page. Images may not appear sequentially in the keying tool, which may result in incorrect information being copied down. Thank you! Gigivs (talk) 10:46, 10 October 2016 (MDT)
Q: May I get some clarification on how to handle the Spouse's Surname field? As an example, if Benjamin Brown married Mary Smith on 1 Jan 1850, I have a record for Benjamin Brown with the GN=Benjamin SN=Brown SGN=Mary SSN=Brown SMN=Smith (and the vital date fields filled in, of course). Is this right, or should the SSN=Smith? Thank you in advance.
- A: This is correct. If there was not a maiden name field you would enter the spouses maiden name as their Surname.
Q: I have noticed several records where a person has died "in his 'X' year of age." Sometimes it is clear that this is not what we would consider their age at death, since the "year of age" has not been completed. For example: birth 2 Jan 1798; death 1 Mar 1808 "in his 11th year". Should I put 11 for his age at death, although clearly the child had only completed ten years? I would prefer to enter age at death as 10, but would that be considered calculating? Which should I use, or should I leave that field blank?
- A: From the keying standards: '- If the record states that the individual is "in their 24th year" you would enter their age as 23. (Since they have not yet had their 24th birthday.)' Katerimmer (talk) 10 July 2017
Q: I have a page from a periodical that shows inquiries from people looking for their ancestors. Some have birth or death dates. Should those be keyed? They resemble advertisements.
- A: As far as I know, these would be keyed if vital dates are present. --Katerimmer (talk) 4 September 2017
Q: I have a page with some incomplete dates, for example: born 8th May 189- born Jan -4 1900 Should I mark the 189- & -4 as in-illegible?
- A: Enter the info as seen so you'd leave the dash out.
Q: I have a record listing a husband and wife. It gives the birth date for the husband as 1827 and the death date as 1913. For the wife it gives a birth date of 1828 and a death date of 1814. I think that's clearly a typo in the newspaper record, but can I assume it should have read 1914?
Q: Record shows the death date as "after 29 March, 1758". I assume that I don't key that record as it doesn't tell me the actual death date, but wanted to be sure. Elsewhere on the same record, I have a name with birth date 1725-1730 and death date 1760-1777. I assume I also don't key that one? There are no other dates associated with either name.
- A: I don't know the answer to the first one, but for the second one, you would key birth year as 1725 and death year as 1760 because the general keying standards say "If there is a year range, and the year field help does not specify how to key the range, such as 1932-1933 key the first year in the date range." Katerimmer (talk) 29 Sep 2017
If you have a suggestion or would like to make an addition to the project page, click “EDIT” and post your suggestion here. (If you click on Rich Editor you won't have to worry about formatting your entry.) Then click “WATCH” at the top right on this page and you will be notified via email when an update has been made.
In keying these records, I really think we're missing a lot by not keying all records PERTAINING to Vital Events. I've had to mark nearly all of the obituaries and death notices as Cover Pages because the didn't contain dates, only the person's age and a day of the week. The only one I've actually been able to key (out of probably 15) was because it was about a prominent resident and it just happened to mention that he married his wife in 1902. If that year hadn't been included, I would have had to pass that record up as well. I think that we should reconsider the instructions. ~lrshea~
- A: I appreciate your concern about the records being missed with the current format. Deciding what to key and what not to key was a difficult decision for this project, and what we are currently doing is a balance of much thought and debate. At this time we will not be able to change the instructions, but I hope you will take comfort in the fact that all of these images will be available for anyone to browse. Seanbmc (talk) 14:20, 25 May 2016 (MDT)
I agree with lrshea, we are missing so much info on people. We did an Alabama project before, and we captured all names, not just names that had dates attached. And browsing the project after it is live, is only helpful if you think you might possibly have ancestors/relatives in Alabama.
I am very disappointed in the answer given here because as others have stated, we are missing a lot of information because many of the article do not have an "official" date associated with them. Just because all images will be available for viewing doesn't mean that people will find them. Most people search for names and don't just go browsing through a collection of articles just hoping that they may come across an article pertaining to someone that they are searching for. This was a very poor decision! - Monica (16 Jun 2016)
> Just an FYI: I have just downloaded my first image set for this project and after about 10 records I believe that I will abandon the effort. Too much information is simply being thrown away and it feels like a giant waste of time. I will gladly return to the project should it be reformatted to collect all names and relationships (parents, grandparents, etc) --Thomasjstout (talk) 14:01, 10 August 2016 (MDT)
Is it possible to add a prefix/suffix field for the spouse. There are a lot of jr/srs/1st/2nd names in this package.
Also could it be possible to add a field for parents of the primary person and a parent field for the spouse.
- A: Unfortunately we will not be able to add any fields at this point. Thank you for your concern though. Seanbmc (talk) 14:20, 25 May 2016 (MDT)
The Keying Standards state, If there is no suffix field provided, the following common suffixes may be keyed into the surname field, following the surname: “Junior” “Jr” “Senior” “Sr” - wouldn't this apply to the Spouse Surname Field?
- A: Yes, this would apply to the spouse, so the suffix may be inserted as per the standard. Seanbmc (talk) 09:39, 2 June 2016 (MDT)
Family Card example should be added to the Project page samples, as I mentioned in Common Errors section.
It would be helpful if 'Next Image' could not be used with 'Content' type unless records have been entered. I have reviewed many images and have to change the image type to Cover Page from Content when no records were entered. It is an easy mistake, unfortunately, on the Data Entry side to select Next Image without changing the Image Type. If the Default Image type could be changed to Cover Page, instead of Content, that would work the same, but I suspect it is by alphabetical order.