4 Replies Latest reply on Jun 26, 2019 12:20 PM by dougk

    US Census transcription

    dougk Newbie

      There are several online search portals for the US census, but nowhere that citizens and researchers can get free copies of entire historical census databases to use for more in-depth research or for cross-linking the information to other record collections. I have created an online transcription project at opengendata.org where the public can participate, starting with the names for 1930 (other fields and years to come), and where the resulting user-transcribed databases will be released as public domain for unrestricted use by all. My question is: are there people at NARA or other federal, state, local, or non-government institutions I could contact regarding possible collaborations? I already communicated with NHPRC but was informed that they do not deal with projects consisting solely of Federal records. Thanks in advance.

        • Re: US Census transcription
          Melissa Himes Adventurer

          I visited your website.  How is this project different from, or an enhancement of, the transcriptions of every census that has already been done by FamilySearch? 

            • Re: US Census transcription
              dougk Newbie

              The two biggest differences are:


              1) The census databases on FamilySearch cannot be re-used, repurposed, or re-posted elsewhere. The current terms of use on the FamilySearch website specifically prohibit transmitting materials from their site to other sites or posting content onto other websites or computer networks. They also specifically prohibit any commercial use- you are only permitted to use materials on their site for your own personal, noncommercial use, so you cannot use it to create new innovative services and technologies that would be beneficial to genealogists, historians, and the public.


              By contrast, there will be no such restrictions on the transcripts created by volunteers on the Open Genealogy Data website (opengendata.org). Academic researchers, genealogists, historians, individuals or small businesses that wish to create innovative new services, and even the National Archives and Records Administration itself will all be able to download and use the transcribed data in any innovative way that they think could be of benefit to the public, or even just for their own research.


              2) On FamilySearch, the public can only access the census within the constraints of the search capabilities specifically provided by FamilySearch on their site. You can search for and access individual records, but you do not have access to the entirety of the census database at once, which would be necessary for many types of research in a variety of fields (history, economics, anthropology, sociology, longitudinal studies, etc.) and also useful for some genealogy tasks such as one-name studies and location-based research.


              By contrast, the Open Genealogy Data website will allow you to download the entire database of all of the volunteer transcripts so you can search, sort, group, access, and analyze the data in any way you see fit instead of being limited to just the functionality provided in the search form on the website. And scientists and statisticians will be able to analyze the data using their own computer programs and algorithms.

              1 person found this helpful
                • Re: US Census transcription

                  Mr. Kennard


                  Thanks for getting in touch and for the additional background that you provided on the goals of your site. We strongly encourage re-use of NARA’s holdings and, to quote one of our current Strategic Goals, “NARA must increase the number and variety of platforms and organizations that use NARA data sets to allow for deeper public engagement....”


                  With respect to Census records, bulk access not been something that we have focused on to date; however we recognize that this is increasingly a feature that people may be looking for. If you would like to discuss further, please contact me at andrew.wilson@nara.gov.


                  3 people found this helpful