Thursday, 18 June 2009

Suddenly, Chaos!

On Tuesday down at the FHC I was happily snapping away at my second session on St Andrew’s Ward when I came upon a census form that was filled with absolutely unreadable black blobs. The form filler was one of those who answered every question for everyone in the house, putting a broad dash when the question was not applicable. He had 15 people to deal with, making for an awful lot of black marks. All very well, but the form had then been subjected to water damage. The ink from all those dashes had bled. The print from the instructions on the back of the form had come through as well. Into the bargain the ink had seaped through to the sheets below. Evidence of the accident was still showing 40 forms later.

What was I going to do? I hated the thought of being unable to give any details at all about the people on the form with the most damage and the following two which weren't much better. That was 31 people I was going to leave off the transcription.

My curiosity led me to see what Ancestry had provided for this house in its originals. Much to my surprise I found a readable schedule. Most of the writing was quite clear with a bit of haze around the lettering. Unfortunately, the ages were for the most part still unreadable. This is where the most of the puddle must have accumulated.

Ancestry and/or the LDS must have some fantastic film-cleaning software at their disposal. Their images are based on the same 1955 filming of the census that I am using on microfilm. I don’t want to use the Ancestry images as a crutch, but there are times—and this was one of them—where the temptation was just too great.

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