01 November 2013

How good is the 1921 census of Canada index?

I completed two quick tests of the index accuracy of the just released 1921 census from Ancestry.ca.

The first data set used was a list of men who served with the Ottawa Company of Sharpshooters during the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. Taking out those who had died, moved overseas or who had not been found in a previous census 26 men remained. The test was conducted as a neophyte might use the database by entering the first and last names and year of birth and searching using default settings. Ancestry aims to appeal to the neophyte; to be successful and the correct person should appear early. The result was 50/50, 13 of the men were found in the first 50 hits, 13 were elusive although known to be alive.

The second data set was a page chosen from Ottawa's St George's Ward where the image was very clear. The 1923 Ottawa City Directory was used to compare surnames. Some were clearly different, people do move, but seven were in the same house in both sources. Two were different, Chapleau in the directory became Chapkan in the census index. Dubé became Autio in the index - the initial letter certainly resembled an A more than a D in the original.

Some people have mentioned to me having problems figuring out how to enter corrections at Ancestry. From the original census page image click on Index in the bottom left hand corner. It will open up a panel beneath the image. Click on the item you want to correct and fill in the form.


Joan Tattersall said...

From my perspective in trying to find family members that I know were living in Montreal, the 1921 census is not helpful. I was very disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the hint on using the index to change fields. Before, I've used the Add Alternate Information link on the text entry for a census, usually to change a name.

I've found this census particularly problematic as the hand-writing is often not good, but the indexing is also often poor. Some names that seem clear on the form are mis-indexed. It can be a challenge to locate these records.