GEORGE N. McINNIS, Genealogist firstname.lastname@example.org FOREWORD: During a number of years of genealogical research in Eastern Nova Scotia, I have often wished for some kind of Index, to facilitate faster access to the Census Records. Finally, I decided to do it! The task began, with the 1881 Inverness and Antigonish County census, with the eventual objective of also doing Guysborough, Richmond, Cape Breton, and Victoria Counties, and to include all the Census 1871 and subsequent, as they become available. During the work, the 1891 census was released. It has the advantage of showing "relationships", and has been given priority. It would have been desireable to re-check accuracy, but the choice was between the alternatives of greater perfection, versus the risk of leaving the task uncompleted, as old age is gaining on me. Having made the necessary practical choice, indulgence is solicited for such errors as have crept in. OVERVIEW: What has been done, is this: 1. The entire County Census has been transcribed from microfilm at the local Later-Day-Saint (Mormon) Library. Their assistance and cooperation are gratefully acknowledged a. The microfilm was of fair quality, and the film readers of the excellent "zoom-lens" type. Even so, there may be errors from reading a scratch as data, or smudges, or blots, etc. The photography of the 1891 Census is inferior to previous efforts. b. One becomes keenly aware of the luxury of handwriting, as compared with typing! The Census Enumerator could (and occasionally did) scribble when he got a name he did not know; but it must be typed using the 26 letters of the alphabet. The written letters were interpreted as they appeared - right or wrong. Sometimes it seemed that the enumerator made a simple, recognizable error, and it was tempting to "make it right". So far as possible, that temptation was resisted, but some obvious gross errors were corrected. c. The clarity of the handwriting of the Census Enumerators varied widely. In some Districts, the handwriting is almost undecipherable. d. Being of Scotch descent, most of the Scotch names were familiar, which is most helpful when trying to decipher a scribble. However, some guesses in the French areas will be inadequate, and possibly hilarious! 2. The second phase was to transfer hand-written copies to a computer "Data Base", which is then sorted into two sequences: Family (Census, or "as enumerated" sequence), and Last Name/First Name. (Alpha sequence). Finally, the entire County is combined, and alphabetized. Here is the result. Hopefully, it will be helpful in leading you to the records that interest you. It would be wise to look at the actual records, to assure your own accuracy, after you have located your people here. PHILOSOPHY: One must make a number of decisions and judgments, in planning how to transcribe a Census. Here are the major decisions: 1. Index vs. full-listing. A name-only Index, would have been a much smaller work. But, in the Counties of interest there were so many persons of the same name, that a name-only Index was not much of a gain over the raw census. Thus, the decision to make a full listing. [1871, 81, 91]. 2. The Census lists "Habitations" under the categories: Vessels", "Shanties", "Houses Under Construction", "Houses Uninhabited" and "Houses Inhabited" For these reports, they are combined into a single category "Dwelling". With this exception, ALL of the enumeration data is included, although in condensed, coded format. Enumerators sometimes added newsy little notes, and these usually are included, as space allows. [1871, 81, 91] 3. The Census displays a number of check-marks and similar markings, apparently made during the totalling process; these may have been mis-interpreted as data. This is especially true on the right-hand side of the enumeration sheet, where "Infirmities" are listed, co-mingled with "counting checks'. Possibly a "counting check" has been mis-interpreted as an Enumeration Entry, and thus your grand-uncle is listed incorrectly as of "unsound mind". If so, apologies are extended! [1871, 81, 91] 4. It is apparent that the Census was gone over, after the enumeration was completed, and some entries were altered. This is especially noticeable under "Occupation", where a two letter code is often inserted, both where the enumerator listed an occupation, and in many instances where no occupation is listed. The code is listed in the rightmost end of the "Occupation" field; an "INDEX of Small Occupation Codes" is attached. It may be possible to infer a missing "Occupation" via the code. [1891 only] 5. There is a code, entered by the Enumerator somewhat randomly, in the area designated for "Dwellings". The entries are only made opposite Heads of Households, and are in the form "W 1/4" or "W 2/5". It is assumed that this is intended to convey that "W 1/4" is a wood-construction, one story, four room house; and that "W 2/5" is a wood-construction, two story, five room house. "S", for Shanty, was enumerated in the column titled "Shanty", and when it occurs, there is no "W-code". A "W-code" of "S 2/5" would be a 2-story stone house with 5 rooms. [1891 only] 6. Entries under "Relationship to Head of Family" vary widely between enumerators. Some only gave relationship if the person was a member of the Head's immediate family; others entered relationship of grand-children, cousins, aunts, etc. The children of a married son living with his parents, might be listed as grand-children (the relationship to the Head), or as children of the son. In many cases, especially when the relationship was listed as "Dom" (Domestic), the entry has been scribbled over with "mb", the meaning of which remains obscure, but perhaps means "member" of the family. [1891 only] NOTES: 1. Spelling. For a variety of reasons, there are alternate spellings of the same basic name. Accordingly, the user of this listing should consider the possible alternatives, when using the alphabetized list. a. There were differences between the way different enumerators spelled a name. Catherine Catharine Catherin Katherin Flora Florah Floria McAskill McKaskill McFayden McPhayden Etc. b. The use of diminutives or nicknames, especially among younger persons. Alexander Alex Alex'r Sandy Donald Dan Danny Dannie Isabell Bell Belle Etc. c. Names which might have been spelled incorrectly, or at least differently than current usage: McEachen McEachern McEachran McEachren McKichan Boyd Boyde Etc. d. Some names have "anglecized" versions, and may have been enumerated in either the "old" version or the "anglecized" version: Seonaid = Janet or Jessie Marcella = Marjorie, etc. LeBlanc = White e. It appears possible that the enumerator may have occasionally inadvertently omitted the "Mc", as when: Kenzie is enumerated. Was McKenzie meant? Phail is enumerated. Was McPhail meant? When suspected, and where possible, this lister checked against the 1881 Census, and if appropriate, added the "Mc", together with a clarifying note. This was done to list the name in the alpha-lists, where a researcher might expect to find the name. However, if external confirmation could NOT be found, the entry was NOT corrected by adding "Mc". f. To facilitate rapid data entry, a computer technique was used to enter with a single keystroke, a longer entry, such as "occupation". Thus, occupations may be entered uniformly, not exactly as enumerated, as "farmer" when the enumerator acutally entered "farming", etc. This technique WAS NOT used on person's names. 2. Problems with enumerator's handwriting. a. Some of the handwriting was quite hard to read. b. Some handwriting is so "colorful", with flourishes and embellishments, that it is hard to read all the letters, or perhaps more precisely, it is difficult to eliminate flourishes that look like letters. I.e. it is often difficult to tell if one is reading McDougall, or McDougal, or McDougald. Often, a name ends in an "e", which might have been intended, or may have been a simple flourish. 3. Enumeration problems. a. Some persons who appear to have been husband and wife, have had the "M" (for "Married") omitted by the enumerator. b. It appears that some "occupations" were omitted by enumerators. Other enumerators found "occupations" for most every adult. c. The material reported was not always consistent from Enumerator to Enumerator. Some gave the bare minimum, or less; others wanted to enter more than the form requested. 4. "Mc" and "Mac". There were few instances of "Mac" in the 1891 Census. Where it was used, it was accurately reflected in this listing, even though it makes a problem in alphabetizing. 5. "Ditto" marks. Some enumerators used them as we now understand them. But, others used them simply to fill an otherwise blank field, in which case it is not possible to determine when "ditto" means to carry down from the previous record, and when "ditto" is simply an indicator of a blank field. ERRORS: Of course there are errors! And, these should be corrected, on the basis of this ground-rule: If the census has been mis-read, that is a "correctable error", an error by this lister. But, if the Enumerator got the information wrong, that "error" is not correctable here. The author would appreciate learning of ANY errors, hopes you understand, and approve. A PLEA: There is a real need to do this task for ALL of CANADA. If you have the time and equipment, please undertake a county of interest. IF WE ALL USE THE SAME FORMAT, someday we will have an "all Canada" census data base, of tremendous value to future genealogists. Please help if you can! What I have used is an IBM-type personal computer, and a "shareware" ("try it, and if you like it, pay a small fee") program called "PC-FILE". Any database program would do the job. e-mail me if you might be interested in helping on this project.
Transcribed by George N. McInnis, an SOCCGS club member, from the LDS microfilm of the hand written Census records.
Inverness County 1881 Nova Scotia Census Main page
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Transcribed by George N. McInnis