Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Argentina 1895 Census Part 4

A comment posted on my one of my last posts concerning the 1895 Census caught my attention. The comment read:

"The site says that although the index is 100% complete, only 63% of the images are online. Any idea why? Or when the rest will appear? My relative, of course, is one of the imageless 37%."

The short answer - The 1895 Census was scanned by FamilySearch about 3-4 years ago. The first 35% microfilms of the collection (give or take 2%) were scanned as bi tonal images (meaning black and white), not gray-scale. The bi tonal images were not very good quality and it was decided to wait to publish the images on the site. Since that time it has been determined that the bi tonal images will be published, so that all images will be available to users. In time the microfilms that were scanned as bi tonally will be redone as gray-scale. After the images are re-scanned in gray-scale they will be linked to the index (which might take some time).

Hopefully this answers the question. In time I am confident that the site and it's collections will get better. Publishing the Mexico 1930 Census (browse only for now), and the Argentina 1895 Census (search only for now), I believe that FamilySearch has shown a desire/interest to reach out to the Hispanic community. We are witnessing some pretty cool advancements in Hispanic family history/genealogy...with a little more time I believe we will see more and more collections online for Hispanic countries.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

FamilySearch and The Generations Network Reach Agreement

I think most people have heard about this by now, but yesterday I received the following email from the Generations Network (parent company of


FamilySearch and The Generations Network Agreement Give Patrons Access to More than 24,000 Databases and Titles

Provo, UT – December 19, 2007 – FamilySearch and The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of, today announced an agreement that provides free access of to patrons of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the 13 largest regional family history centers effective today.

With this new agreement, full access will be provided to more than 24,000 databases and titles and 5 billion names in family history records. In addition to the Family History Library, the following 13 regional family history centers have been licensed to receive access to

Mesa, Arizona

Los Angeles, California

Oakland, California

Orange, California

Sacramento, California

San Diego, California

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Pocatello, Idaho

Las Vegas, Nevada

Logan, Utah

Ogden, Utah

St. George, Utah

Hyde Park, London, England

“We’re excited for our patrons to receive online access to an expanded collection of family history records on,” said Don Anderson, director of FamilySearch Support. “’s indexes and digital images of census, immigration, vital, military and other records, combined with the excellent resources of FamilySearch, will increase the likelihood of success for patrons researching their family history.”

The Generations Network and FamilySearch hope to expand access to other family history centers in the future.

FamilySearch patrons at the designated facilities will have access to’s completely indexed U.S. Federal Census Collection, 1790-1930, and more than 100 million names in passenger lists from 1820-1960, among other U.S. and international record collections. Throughout the past year, has added indexes to Scotland censuses from 1841-1901, created the largest online collection of military and African American records, and reached more than 4 million user-submitted family trees.

Free access is also available at Brigham Young University Provo, Idaho, and Hawaii campuses, and LDS Business College patrons through a separate agreement with The Generations Network.

“FamilySearch’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City is one of the most important physical centers for family history research in the world, and we are happy that patrons to the Library and these major regional centers will have access to,” said Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of “We’ve enjoyed a ten-year working relationship with FamilySearch, and we look forward to continued collaboration on a number of family history projects.”

About – Visit us at

With 24,000 searchable databases and titles and more than 2.5 million active users, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. The site is home to the only complete online U.S. Federal Census collection, 1790-1930, as well as the world’s largest online collection of U.S. ship passenger list records featuring more than 100 million names, 1820-1960. is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including,, and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive 8.7 million unique visitors worldwide and more than 416 million page views a month (© comScore Media Metrix, October 2007).

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Spanish Variant Spellings and Interchangable Letters

Have you ever heard the saying: "There is more than one way to skin a cat.?" I believe a similar saying could be said in genealogy too..."There is more than on way to spell a name."

I have been thinking a lot about my last post on the Argetina 1895 census, especially the part about variant spellings of names. Variant spellings show their ugly face in individual's names (both first and last names), place names, and in their written language in general. Variant spellings are even more fun to deal with when you include a language barrier. Like a census taker from Argentina spelling a French, Italian, or German name.

Interchangeable letters can also make things interesting. I spent the better part of six months (on and off, mostly off) trying to find some towns in Spain, only to find that the town's name was actually spelled (in gazetteers and on maps) completely different. Here are a couple of general rules for variant spellings and interchangeable letters, then I will discuss some specific examples that I have come across in my research, and show you how I solved...hopefully giving you some ideas on solving some of your own problems.

The following interchangeable letters seem to be the most common in Hispanic genealogy. I feel these are the most important ones to be aware of when searching for your ancestors.
  • i and y - Two examples come to mind:
    • Iglesia vs. Yglesia
    • Hoya, Hoia (also see it spelled: Joya, Joia, Oya, Oia) - don't forget the de Hoya or de la Hoya.
  • j-x-g-h - Here are a few examples...I'm sure you could add to the list
    • Jimenez/Gimenez/Ximenez
    • Javier/Xavier
    • Mujer/Muger
  • v and b - v pequeña y b grande - the most confused letters in the Spanish language
    • Villa/Billa
    • Valle/Balle
    • Bautista/Vautista
  • c-s-z -Here are a couple of examples
    • Garcia/Garsia/Garzia
    • Lezuza, Lesuza, Lesusa
Searching indexes

These interchangeable letters can cause major headaches when searching indexes, especially computer databases. I've been researching in Granada, Spain for nearly 3 years now. Most of the parish records have been destroyed, however, the diocesan marriage petitions still exist, and have been indexed by FamilySearch (on microfiche). Searching for the surname Valle I had to search for the following combinations.
  • Valle, Balle, de Valle, de Balle, de la Valle, de la Balle (Hoya was just as much fun)
I would have never would have been as successful as I have been if I hadn't checked all the possible variant spellings of the name. This is an important principle in genealogy/family history: Always try spelling the name at least a couple of different ways.

A Couple of Case Studies

If I'm working with a family that migrated a lot; I find myself referring back to a map or gazetteer. Parish registers and civil registration records often give places of birth for individuals, however, those town names are often misspelled. This can cause frustration and slow down your research. Here are a couple of examples.
  • About a year ago I was working with a lady on your family history. The birth certificate we had (civil registration from Spain) said that the maternal grandmother of the child (being registered) was from "Baloria" in the province of Soria. In hind site this problem should have been easy for me, but it took me some time to figure it out.
    • The first place I looked was online. A Google search did not help me (I know that comes to a suprise to many of you). I checked my favorite map site for Spain, but still couldn't find Baloria.
    • The second place I went to was the Madoz gazetteer/geographical dictionary of Spain (not online). Still no Baloria in the province of Soria.
    • Next I tried some variant spellings: after some work I finally figured it out...Valloria.
  • The other day I received an email from a colleague. She was working with some individuals and couldn't find the following (I went through the same steps, so I'll save you the pain of me explaining them again).
    • A U.S. newspaper obituary said that the deceased was born in: Laquatis, Spain (in the Basque region). My recommendation for this one was: Lauquiz (Spanish) or Laukiz (Basque). If you do a Place Search in the Family History Library Catalog you will need to search for: Laquíniz. In this case we had to work through a bad English translation/interpretation of the town's name, then fight with Spanish and Basque, an extra degree of difficulty, but not unique to Basque problems.
    • A U.S. WW1 draft registration listed a place of birth as: Bancarlos, Navarra, Spain. After some digging in the resources listed above I believe I found it spelled as: Valcarlos, Navarra, Spain. I know that the n and v aren't interchangeable, but this is a good example of being careful of believing the spelling a name.
Do you have an ancestral town you just cannot find in a Hispanic country? Let others help you. Go ahead and post a comment with background information and we'll see if we can figure it out for you. Please provide the town's name and any background information that might be helpful.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Argentina 1895 Census Part 3


I thought I would spend some time and read through some mailing lists/groups to see if anyone was talking about the Argentina 1895 census. People are talking alright, but it seems that the excitement that I anticipated seems to be overshadowed by talk of indexing errors.

Computers vs. Microfilms

Most of us, if not all, would agree that computers have taken genealogy research to the next level. Having things at your finger tips with the click of a mouse or by searching a website are awesome, if you can find what you are looking for.

There has been some talk about the inaccuracies in the 1895 Argentina census. I believe some are a little hesitant to talk about them and voice their opinion, but like I tell my students...'everyone should have an opinion, and not be afraid to share it.' Here's my opinion...researching via computer/internet is completely different than microfilm. Let's way some options.
  • Ordering microfilm to Argentina can take several months. If you are patient that's okay, however, I'd prefer to try an online collection with some errors first before I order a microfilm.
  • Ordering microfilms aside let's look at Family History Centers. I love the satellites of the Family History Library, but most of them have really irregular hours that might not fit your schedule.
  • Family History Center space is limited. Ever been to a center and not been able to use a film reader, because they are being used by others? It's not fun, especially if you've made adjustments in your schedule to visit the center during irregular hours.
Computers in Genealogy and Family History

As more and more record collections become available online, the more and more we need to adapt. If you speak with anyone that has used the U.S. 1900 census on microfilm and internet they will tell you that the internet is the best way to go hands down...even with all of it's errors. Some don't realize that the U.S. 1900 census probably has just as many errors as the Argentina 1895 census.

Recently a study was done on the 1900 U.S. census index and the index recently finished via FamilySearch Indexing by volunteers. In this particular case study the two indexes did not match nearly 65% of the time. Nearly 90% of the time Ancestry's index contained the errors. Long lecture made short - all indexes have problems/errors.

So, what do we do to combat all the errors? Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Alternate spellings - Argentina is just as large as melting pot as the United States. Germans, Italians, French, Spaniards, etc. immigrated to the country. You will want to be careful when searching for your ancestors. 99% of the names will be spelled with a Spanish flavor. Or if the census taker was a native Spanish speaker, and the family was Italian or German the communication may not have been very good, hence some spelling errors may have occurred. About a week ago an individual couldn't find their ancestors they knew were in the 1895 Argentina census. After being a little creative we found them. Take a look:
    • Family Surname: Caballieri (Italian) - the individual was found in the census as: Caballini
    • Family Surname: Haine (French according to the census) - the individual was found in the census as: Haure.
    • Ancestor: Adela Garramuño de Romeiro - the individual was found in the census as: Adela G. de Rameiro
  2. Indexers make mistakes - No one is perfect, and no one index is perfect. If you don't like the quality of an index, then you should step up and participate in the indexing efforts yourself. It is easy to pick on the work of others when you haven't helped. The Mexico 1930 census is available to work on right now. It might not be for your country, but it will give you some experience, which will help you in the future when an indexing project for your country becomes available. By the way - the 1930 Mexico census project is going very slow...please help out.
  3. Be greatful and be patient - Yes, you are entitled to your opinion...but this is the first significant Latin American collection to be available for free on the internet. I can understand if you were complaining about the quality if you were paying for a subscription, but this is free.
The census will get better over time, i.e. browsable (good quality) images, and a way to make the current index better. Don't be afraid to share your is always welcome and necessary for making things better. In the meantime let's make the most of what we have, and use this wonderful resource to find ancestors.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Second Class Now Available on RootsTelevision

Well, the classes from the FHL Hispanic Genealogy and Family History Conference (October 19th and 20th) are now trickling in on RootsTelevision. You can see my 'Buscando Ancestros Mexicanos en el Interent' presentation online for free at:

I haven't watched it yet...hopefully it will be helpful in your research. I would love some feedback. Feel free to drop me a comment here on my blog.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

1895 Argentina Census Now Online part 2

This last week of work has been interesting. I've had a handful of people come into my office and express their surprise at the number of unique visitors FamilySearch Labs is getting from Argentina. According to site statistics Argentina and Canada were in a dead heat for the country with the second most visitors to the site (behind the United States). The spike in the numbers (visitors from Argentina) followed directly on the heels of my post announcing the the database on the site...I guess people are reading my blog, and then sharing the information with others; cool!

Yesterday it was determined that some of the images were scanned as bi-tonal (most were scanned as gray-scale images), meaning that their quality is not as good as they should be. I curious to know if people have actually noticed a difference in some of the images. If you have used the 1895 Census collection on FamilySearch Labs and found that some of the images are not readable will you please let me know? Go ahead and leave me a comment at the end of this post...thanks!!