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The USGenWeb Census Project Is Rewriting History

Jun 01, 2011

The goal of the USGenWeb Project, which began in 1997, is to transcribe and upload every U.S. Federal Census into the USGenWeb archives. The project is huge and relies heavily on the time and effort of volunteers. Access to the uploaded content is free, and it provides users with a wealth of information on U.S. census data.

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By Bobby Mann

The USGenWeb Census Project

Everyone has family roots. Some spread far and wide, while others are concentrated in a specific geographic area. The USGenWeb Project aims to transcribe every U.S. Federal Census into a central database so that users can learn more about their backgrounds and heritage and the census makeup of a state or county at a particular point in time. The uploaded information is searchable by state and gives data by county and year.

For each county, the names of the transcriber and the proofreader are listed. In some instances, information has been transcribed but not proofread, so a proofreader is needed to complete the assignment. In addition to the census data for each county of a specific state, there may also be scanned images. If you want to access census data for a specific county and date, just click on the appropriate county to download the relevant text files. Keep in mind that this content is data centric and any conclusions made about the census information are strictly your own.

USGen Web Project united states census

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How You Can Help

Much of the work of the USGenWeb Census Project is incomplete and, as a result, the project is actively searching for volunteers. Currently, the project needs transcribers, proofreaders, state census coordinators and technical support. In order to become a transcriber, you must first pick a state and a county that is available for transcription. Next, you visit the sign up page to fill out the appropriate information before volunteering.

Proofreaders, or second transcribers, are needed to ensure that there are no discrepancies between the original document and the transcription. The proofreader is expected to interact with the transcriber to discuss differences and decide upon what should be entered into the final document. According to the USGenWeb Project, the proofreader is essentially conducting a second transcription to ensure completeness and accuracy. Additionally, state census coordinators are used to interact with volunteers.

As of now, there is one state census coordinator for each state. The duty of a state census coordinator is to touch base with volunteers and keep them in the loop on any pertinent information. Lastly, technical support, such as file managers, help volunteers troubleshoot software issues. Prospective file managers must have knowledge of spreadsheets and be able to learn Census templates, the Census Page Numbering system and specific Census programs. File managers, however, do receive training for the USGenWeb-specific software programs that are used.

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