World Archives Keying Standards

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How should records be classified if they are not being keyed?

If you come across a record that does not fit the description of a record we are keying it should be categorized as one of the No Information to key form types.

Cover page, Section header, etc: This form type is to be used when there is useful or interesting information on the record but it is not a record we are keying.
- The description of how the records were gathered that is often found in the first few image sets.
- Many records come in packets where the records have the same information so we are only keying one of the records; all of the other records in the packet would be classified as Cover pages.

Image with no data: This is for records with no useful information, or that are completely blank.
- Microfilm targets, image testing pages and black pages.
- Preprinted forms that are blank.

Target: Choose the "Target" form type when the image is of a color and/or gray scale target.

Additional non-keyed form types may also be listed in the "No information to key" section of the form lists. To change a form type click on the Change button next to the name of the form type on the left side of the keying tool.

Using the Field Helps

Each field on the form has a description of what and how the information appearing on the image should be entered in that field. The Field Helps are found in the tool on the lower left hand side, it can also be viewed on the Project Help page. Clicking on "View More About This Project" in the Help drop down menu will also bring you to the Project page, on this page you can see examples of the form types and descriptions for each field.

The Field Helps are specific to each project and provide the instructions that should be followed for entering information in each field. The field helps supercede any other instructions you may read.

What if the information on the record doesn't match what the field helps describe?

If there is data on the record that does not seem to match what the field helps describe as the data that should be entered in the field look elsewhere on the record to see if the data is given somewhere else. If the data is not on the record leave the field empty.
For example, if the field you are keying is the Month field but the record states Michigan in the date field do not key Michigan in the Month field.

Do the Field Helps get updated with new information?

Yes, if guidelines change or if we feel that the directions in the Field Helps could be improved we do revise and adjust the wording.

What is a Record?

A record is one line of information. When you are keying one line of information from an image such as the census or Criminal Registers this should be entered on only one line of the form you are entering data on. Adding additional lines will appear as additional records on the index and will create an inaccurate accounting of the image.

There are collections that will have more information than can be entered on one line, for example if you are entering data from a marriage announcement and there are two sets of parent names on the image but there is only one set of Parent Name fields on the form, only one line should be entered for this record so only one set of parent names can be entered. Some of the information from the images will not be able to appear in the index.

If I accidentally add an extra line can it be removed?

Yes, you can remove a line by using the Delete record icon

What fields should be keyed?

We have required fields, these are the highlighted fields, that are based on information that all of the records should contain. If this information isn't available the fields should be marked “blank”. There are other fields included on form types that some records may contain, but since not all of the records have this information it would be time consuming to mark all of them blank if the information isn't present. If there is a field available and there is information on the record that is applicable this information should be collected.

There is often information on the records that we do not have fields for. Although it would be nice to capture more information, the main reason we don't ask for all of the information available on a record is that we are creating an index. The information we gather is based on information that will be searchable.

What if I come across a duplicate record?

There are times when you will key an image then the next image is the exact same image but looks a lot better.  In this situation return to the first image and change the Form Type to "Duplicate Image"  - this will prompt a pop-up message stating, "Since you indicated that this is a form type of [Duplicate Image], there are not any additional data to enter from the current image."  Click on Yes.

If you come across images that are duplicates but one does not appear to be a better quality image than the other mark one as a Duplicate Image and key the information from the other.  Please do not key both images.


What if I come across a record with the same name listed multiple times?

If the same exact name is listed multiple times on a record generally you will only key the name once. The exception to this is if the name is a secondary name and is listed in reference to a different person. An example of this is keying the parents' names for each sibling listed in the London School Admissions. (In these cases F3 comes in handy to copy the information from the field above.)

How do I key names that appear to be Abbreviated?

When working with names, you should always key them exactly as you see them. For example, if Wm is written on the image, key Wm. It would not be appropriate to assume it is an abbreviation and enter William. Other name abbreviations to watch for are Jos for Joseph, Chas for Charles, Thos for Thomas, Jno for Jonathan, John, or Johann, and Jas for James, etc. If there are abbreviated names with an apostrophe, for example Sam'l, key them as seen on the record.

How do I key names when they are given as Mr. and Mrs.?"

When you have names on the record written as Mr. and Mrs Christopher Anderson the names should be entered as follows,
Prefix: Mr
Given Name: Christopher
Surname: Anderson
Spouse Given Name: empty
Spouse Surname: Anderson
Most projects will not have a Spouse Prefix field - if it does you would enter Mrs in that field.

If you have a record that says Mr John Chen and Mrs Chen you would enter them as follows:
Prefix: Mr
Given Name: John
Surname: Chen
next record...
Prefix: Mrs
Given Name: empty
Surname: Chen

Be mindful of unusual prefixes, such as ranks, when looking at a combination of names in order to determine how they should be entered.

How do I enter middle names?

Middle names should be entered in the Given Name field, after the given name.

How should prefixes and suffixes be entered?

Most projects include both a prefix and suffix field allowing for both to be keyed when they are present.

In cases where a name is listed as Randolph, Jack, Baron of Friedmar and there are not prefix or suffix fields only the surname, Randolph and the Given name, Jack would be entered. If there are fields for the prefix and suffix you would enter Baron of Friedmar in the suffix field. 
In cases where the name is listed as Rev. John Smith, or John Smith, Jr, and there is not a prefix or suffix field the name should be entered with John in the Given Name field and Smith in the Surname field, without either prefix or suffix.  If there are prefix and suffix fields you would key Rev in the prefix, and Jr in the suffix fields. 

If you encounter names such as William Bradley, Esq should Esq be entered as a suffix? Yes, entries such as Esq, MD, JP, Sr, and III are all in the dictionary (drop down menu for the suffix field) and they should be entered as seen on the record.

When it comes to titles keying knowing what to key can be tricky. Here are a few standards that will help you discern what should be keyed and which fields it should be keyed in.  The first line is how the name appears on the record, and the second line shows how it should be keyed.

1. Prince Charles

Prefix: Prince, Given Name: Charles

2. Charles Windsor, Prince of Wales

Given Name: Charles, Surname: Windsor, Suffix: Prince of Wales

3. Prince of Wales

Given Name: Prince of Wales

4. Lady Stewart of Tullybody

Given Name: Lady Stewart of Tullybody

5. Duke of Atholl (Sir John William Menses, Bart)

Prefix: Sir, Given Name: John William, Surname: Menses, Suffix: Duke of Atholl

6. Sir Robert Menzies of Castle Menzies

Prefix: Sir, Given Name: Robert, Surname: Menzies (“of Castle Menzies” is not part of the individuals name)


How should Alias names be entered?

Many forms have a section that list an alias for individuals. On form types that have alias names listed, the name should be entered in the Alias Given or Alias Surname fields. Typically aliases are found in parentheses but you may also see AKA to highlight an alias. For example, the name John (Johann) Smith (Schmitt) would be entered with John in the Given Name field, Smith in the Surname field and Johann in the Alias Given name field and Schmitt in the Alias Surname field.

If the alias name applies to only the surname, then only key the alias into the Alias Surname field and leave the Alias Given Name field blank and vice versa.

Finally, if there is more than one alias listed on the image and there is only one alias name field, you should only enter the first alias found on the record. The additional aliases should not be entered. If there is an alias name and there is not an alias name field on the form, the alias should not be entered. Additional lines should not be used for alias names.

How should maiden names be entered?

If you can determine that the record contains a maiden name please key both the maiden and married surnames - the name that appears first on the record should be entered in the Surname field and the name appearing second entered in the Alias Surname field.  For example if the name is listed as Brenda Jones, nee Smith enter Jones in the Surname field and Smith in the Alias Surname field.  Many records will have a maiden name column which will make it easy to determine what the maiden name is - if you are keying records that do not spell out what the maiden names are look for determinants such as nee, and fly(an abbreviation for formerly). If there is not an Alias Surname field key only the maiden name in the Surname field and the married surname in the Spouse Surname field if present.

If an individual has three names, Mary Hansen Jones, and there is no indicator of a maiden name the first two names would be entered in the Given name field and the last name would be entered in the Surname field.

If there is an individual with multiple spouses but there is only one set of spouse name fields follow the instructions in the field help or Project Instructions on which to enter. If you do not find specific instructions enter the most recent spouse in the spouse name fields.

How do I key words that are not names, dates or locations?

It’s best to use the list of suggested entries as you enter data from these fields. We put together common options from the time period or that are specific to a certain area, etc, so the list is very helpful as you determine what the record says, and in reading the handwriting. (This is especially true of non-English projects!) The list of suggested entries will appear as you begin to key the data.

How do I key punctuation that appears in names?

In cases where an apostrophe appears in a name such as O’Dell, key it exactly as you see it. The same rule applies when a hyphen appears in a name such as Brown-Smith.

There are some names that appear to include an apostrophe which is really a superscript "c". Instead of keying M'Cracken you would key it as McCracken.

However, when initials appear, do not include the periods. For example, C.M. or Mrs. should be keyed as C M or Mrs and not include the punctuation.

If there is a space in the name, such as Mc Kay, key the name as seen on the record.  It will not affect the searchability if the name is entered with or without the space.

How should punctuation be entered?

The majority of punctuation should be entered as you see it on the record with a few exceptions listed below.

  1. Periods should not be keyed.
  2. Ampersands should be translated as "and".

How should dates be entered?

If the DAY appears as 04 on the record the date should be entered as 4.

In the U.S.A. dates are recorded in mm/dd/yyyy format while in the UK, and many other countries, the date is recorded in dd/mm/yyyy format.

MONTHS are generally an exception to the key as seen rule and they should be entered with the 3 letter abbreviation. For example, if December is recorded on the image key it as Dec.

YEARS should be entered as 4-digit years when possible. If the year on the image is only 2 digits please try to determine what century the event occurred in. There is typically information on the image that will assist you in determining if it is 2008 vs 1008. If you are unable to determine the century please key the two digit year. 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. Follow field help for each project to determine how the year should be keyed.

If there is a death date and an age on the record should we record the birth year? No, we do not calculate dates - only use the dates present on the records.

How should the gender be entered?

Generally the full gender name should be enter, make selections from the list of suggested entries (male, female, unknown)

If the image states that the wife is Male should I correct this? - No, the data should be entered how it appears on the image.

How should marital status be entered?

  1. If known, enter the full marital status name from the list of suggested entries (married, single, widowed, divorced, never married)

How should locations be keyed?

1. If the image has an incomplete location and I know the county/state/province should I enter it?

No, we do not want to infer information that is not found on the records we are keying.

2. If the cards states American but the Field Help asks for the Birth country should I key in U.S.A.?

No, you should enter what is on the image.

3. If the country no longer exists should I enter the current name of the country?

No, you should key what is entered on the image. If the image states Prussia, Prussia is what should be entered not Germany.

4. Should abbreviations be entered as abbreviations or should they be expanded?

Unless the Field Help states otherwise locations should be keyed as seen. Abbreviations that appear with punctuation would be keyed without the punctuation. For example, "G.B." would be keyed as "GB", "N Y" would be keyed as "N Y" and "AB" would be keyed as "AB".

5. Should hyphens be keyed in locations?

If the location has a hyphen in the image then we will key the hyphen. The same is true for apostrophes.

6. If I know that the location is misspelled can I correct it?

Unless the Field Help states otherwise, the location name should not be corrected but should be entered as it appears on the image.  If the record states Jougoslavia you should key Jougoslavia.

7. If there is a city and a country given on the record but only a general location or residence field, how should I enter it?

Enter the city and country separated with a comma. For example, "Paris, France".
This is true for any broad Location field - separate each geographic area with a comma.
city, state
city, county
county, state
state, country

8. If the record says Jackson County should I enter County?

No, only enter the name of the county, "Jackson" - unless the field help states otherwise. This is true whether you are entering the data into a general location field or a county field.

How do I key the age?

When the age is in months, always key it in the format of months over 12. For example, if 8 months is recorded on the image enter 8/12. When the age is recorded in years, simply enter the number.
If the age is listed in days that total less then a month, such as 13 days, enter 0. Additionally, if the age is recorded in a format such as 6 y 3 m 2 d just key the year. In this example you can simply enter 6.

If the entry states, Minor should that be entered?

No, only numbers should be entered in the Age field.

If the record states that the individual is "in their 24th year" how should that be keyed?

In this situation the age would be entered as 23 since they have not yet had their 24th birthday.

Should I include the ? or * symbols when characters are unrecognizable?

Yes, when there are letters that you cannot determine place ??, two question marks, in their place.

How do I enter international characters?

In some cases you'll need to enter international characters that are not found on your computer's keyboard. To enter the characters, click the International characters icon located in the menu bar just above the form where data is entered. Once the International Characters window appears, click the character that you wish to enter, then select the Insert button.

Should I key crossed out data?

If information is crossed out without being replaced, key the crossed-out information. Otherwise, key the replacement information.
If the crossed out information is a name and there is an Alias field enter the crossed out data as an alias.

Is it okay to type all in CAPS?

Proper capitalization should be used when entering data from the images.  The first letter of proper nouns (names of people and places) should be capitalized and the remainder of the name should be entered in lower case letters.

Can I pull information from one image to key on another?

Unless specifically stated otherwise in the project instructions, information should not be pulled from one image to key on another.

What if the Project Instructions differ from the Keying Standards?

From time to time a project will have specific instructions that fall outside or make exceptions to the Keying Standards. In circumstances where this happens, the specific project instructions will supersede the Keying Standards and should be followed on that project only and not applied to other projects.