Digitized Records in the Irish Context

The trend in having original records available online is to be applauded. It is vital to have digitized records but it is also very important to have the original records scanned to show the handwriting and context as well as to allow the record to be checked for errors.

The Irish 1901 and 1911 censuses and the records on irishgenealogy.ie have lots of errors in the transcribed version but it is possible to check the original records from the scanned pdf files in all the census records and some of the irishgenealogy.ie records. As far as I know, there are no plans and no funding for errors to be corrected on the 1901 and 1911 censuses or irishgenealogy.ie.

I am familiar with the Mallow Heritage Centre online records and although there are some errors, it is not possible to check the original records so it is impossible to know the extent of the errors. It is disappointing not to have original records online but the ancestral centres were not geared for this approach and they were digitizing records many years ago and it seems that they were not prepared to change their strategy with changing technology.

I hope the presentation of original records as well as transcriptions, is the way forward, for Irish genealogical records. People always want to see the original especially if it means they can see original signatures and if there is a scanned copy online, it allows this to be done from anywhere on the planet. Having scanned records also helps people when there are errors or difficulties in the transcriptions.

As an online consumer you can feel very cut off from primary records without access to scanned originals. However, it is not enough to present scanned copies unless they are typed and OCR (optical character recognition) technology can be used. This is the case in many newspaper archives. It doesn’t work perfectly but again you can check the record when you look at the pdf files online.

Some burial records are appearing online as pdfs and as they are hand written, it is not possible to use OCR on these. As long as the total content is relatively small it works quite well to have to wade through the records hoping to find something of relevance and it is better to have some access than none.

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One Response to Digitized Records in the Irish Context

  1. Kevin Terry says:

    Well put Margaret

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