7 Replies Latest reply on Jan 13, 2020 11:31 AM by John Harnly Branched from an earlier discussion.

    Correcting name in 1940 Census to Earl Harnly

    John Harnly Wayfarer

      I've been trying to find my grandfather (Earl Harnly) in the 1940 Census by searching with different variations of his last name (Harnly, Harnley, Hamly, etc.) but to no avail. I finally decided to do it the hard way and manually go thru each sheet of the 1940 Census in the location in Lincoln, Nebraska where he, most likely, would have been living.  I eventually found him and his family and determine his last name had been transcribed as "Harnby".  I sent an email to 1940Census@nara.gov asking if there was a way to correct the spelling but have not heard back from them.  Is this a lost cause or is there a mechanism for correcting these errors?

        • Re: Correcting name in 1940 Census to Earl Harnly
          Lisha Penn Pioneer

          Dear Mr. Harnly,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the depository of the permanently valuable non-current records of the Federal Government. Our mission is to preserve the records and make them available to the public. When this file was transferred to the legal custody of the National Archives, we may not add to, subtract from, or change in any way the contents of official records of the U.S. government.


          If you have found a name error in the 1940 U.S. Census, please email catalog@nara.gov for information about what to do next.


          We hope this is helpful.


          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: Correcting name in 1940 Census to Earl Harnly

            John Harnly

            Where exactly were you when you found the error? While on ancestry, I've found errors for my family, Toomey, also. On the page I found the transcription error, Toorney, I paged down to the bottom and sent a message relaying the incorrect info. I haven't heard back.

            Thank you!


            • Re: Correcting name in 1940 Census to Earl Harnly



              If you found the transcription error on Ancestry, you can submit alternate information. Ancestry is responsible for the transcriptions on their site; the National Archives has no control over that. There is a place on Ancestry to submit your "correction." It is on the census transcription page for each person's entry. To the left of the full transcription, and below the thumbnail image of the census page, there are three options: (see image)Census transcription

              • View blank form
              • Add alternate information
              • Report issue

              Choose the second one, next to the pencil icon - Add alternate information. There you will be given some choices as to what you want to provide, and the reason as to why. Select "name" from the dropdown choices, and choose "transcription error" under the reason dropdown. From there you can enter the correct transcription. You will get an immediate, generic "thank you." You will later see your correction show up in brackets as alternate information under the transcribed name. You won't get any personal correspondence or acknowledgement later from Ancestry - it just shows up in the record transcription. The original transcription will always remain, but user-submitted alternate information will allow the record to show up in search results for the correct spelling. Your alternate submission will be publicly visible.


              Now if the census record itself - as entered by the census taker - is wrong for some reason, the transcription cannot be changed. It must remain as written, no matter what. But if the transcriber misread a J for an F, or an "a" for an "o," etc., then certainly the transcription error can be noted, with your alternate information provided.


              My own example of an error by the census-taker was for my great-grandfather, Brown Judge. Brown is his first name. I could not find him in the 1880 census. I knew where he was living at that time, and it would have been the first census he appeared in after coming to America that same year. Like you, I ended up searching every page in that town. I found him as Judge Brown! The census-taker had reversed his name. There was nothing I could do about it, because the transcription has to be of the record as it was created, even though I know for a fact that his name is Brown Judge.


              Hoping this helps. I have used this feature for many years, and it's very helpful to all researchers.


              Kathy Judge Blacklock

              3 people found this helpful