Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finding My Family 1940 Plus Indexing the First 1000 are the Toughest

Kapple/Kappel family home on Forest in Chicago, Illinois

A week has passed since the harrowing 1940 US Census debut. The first day left us wondering if we would ever actually see any of the census images. A tsunami of people hit the servers on that first day bringing the Official Site down. It looked like we would not be able to index that first day. By about 5 pm pacific time I was able to get my first batch to index. Since then I'v pasted the 1000 name mark. I am sure my first few batches of 1940 Census Index pages weren't the best. I am learning the indexing game as I go along; on the job. I heard someone complain at a recent 1940 Census Webinar that indexers are not following instructions. For the most part the instructions for each field on the Census are plainly explained in a box to the right of what you are indexing. When you are getting started, however, these numerous instructions can be overwhelming. It is necessary to keep referring to them until you have gained some skill. It takes time to learn how to interpret handwriting etc. plus remember all of the instructions. After a week I predict those who stick with indexing will be on their way to near perfection when it comes to indexing. The arbitrators will have to bear with the newbies for a while.
As far as the handwriting goes interpretation has been much like what I am familiar with regarding my research in original records. You have to keep looking at the words and names you know to untangle the ones you don't know. I have also used Google Search to find the correct place names and Family Search to find hard to decipher family names. I often find the same families on the 1930 US Census. If you like solving these handwriting puzzles you will love indexing. It is rewarding when you finally correctly identify some of the  scribbles.
So far I have worked on indexes for Delaware, Colorado, Kansas, California, Illinois, Oregon and Virginia. The readability of these pages ranges from nearly completely illegible and sometimes very blurred images, to excellent quality, very legible handwriting. Most images are 90 some percent readable with a few   indecipherable entries. I have noticed many misspellings of places and names. The Census takers often used phonetic spellings. I would have thought by 1940 the names would have been spelled correctly. 
I think a problem for young indexers is going to be the outdated first names. Post baby boomers likely don't have much contact with this older generation. I remember a young saleperson at Macy's had never heard of the name Marjorie before. My mother's best friend was Marjorie and she was surprised that this young woman never heard of it before. Names like Marjorie, Mildred, Doris etc. coupled with outdated handwriting styles, might be a little tricky for the younger generation.
Mary Kappel and family 1940 US Census
As I said earlier the first day the Census was released was a day of frustration and confusion. After all the build up to this day I was inpatient to find my family. I did all the preliminary research at the Steve Morse One Step 1940 Site. I had my ED districts ready. I got up early which was unnecessary because the official site crashed. Ancestry.com was the first site to get viewable images up for a few states. Lucky California was one of those states which was available by midday. That night I found out the My Heritage Site had Illinois images posted so I began searching there about 10pm. So by the end of that day I found my Great-Grandmother Mary Kappel in Chicago, Illinois with some of her family, and my mother's family in Puente, California. Sadly the Forest address is not where my grandparents Rudolph and Dorothy Kapple lived in 1940. I have tried to search the area for them but Chicago is such a large city I quickly found it would be nearly impossible to find them that way. I may have to wait for the index. I do have a list of people to search for in the index when that is ready.
Charles and Graciela Forgey family 1940 Census
I found the information for my family very interesting. I did not know my grandfather Charles Forgey still worked for the WPA in 1940. I knew that he had worked for the WPA in Glendale when he was supposed to make a list of all the City Trees in Glendale giving their species. In 1940 he seems to have been working on a School Construction site. I am thinking that may have been Hudson School or El Monte High School? I have some lighting fixtures and a few other items from Hudson School which was demolished in the 1980's. My mother remembers when her family was getting relief during the depression. The government gave jackets to poor families which my mother did not want to wear because then people knew you were on relief. Soon after this my grandfather was able to get defense work. He worked at Douglas in Long Beach as a shipping and receiving clerk during WWII. 
Major League Pitcher Denver Lemaster
A picture my family has of Denver Lemaster makes more sense now. When I looked at the entry before my grandparents I found the Lemaster family with their child Denver. Apparently this child later became a Major league baseball Pitcher; Denny Lemaster.
My mother was selected to answer more questions in the 1940 Census which actually didn't provide any info I didn't already know.
I noticed that my Forgey Grandparents land was valued at $2000.  
It was wonderful that my Great Grandmother Mary Kappel still lived on Forest in Chicago in 1940. Her daughter and son-in-law and couple of her children and grandchildren also lived with her. Apparently her son-in-law and his family moved in when my grandparents moved out. It's great to get more family names. I will have to research the newly identified family members. As I said previously my Grandparents divorced and my Grandmother Dorothy Kapple brought her family to California. My grandfather Rudolph Kapple remained in Chicago. The family in Chicago was rarely referred to. I never knew that Rudolph had 10 siblings until I began researching. I am just now learning the names of more of his nieces and nephews. We have no pictures of the early Kappel family in Chicago. My father was young when his parents divorced. One of the fond memories my Father had regarding his father was a tour he was given of a steel mill by his father. I wondered about how my grandfather had access to a steel mill? Now I see that his brother William and his brother-in-law were working in the steel industry 1940. I will see if Rudolph also worked in the steel industry when I locate him.

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