How FreeCEN is changing…

The adjustments we’re making for the time being will take FreeCEN into the long run. We’re now not a lookup service, which is how we began. We have gotten a dynamic supply of information for each the newbie and the skilled. 

On this publish we’ll clarify the problems driving the adjustments, and the way they’ll have an effect on you. It is damaged down into the next sections:

Changes for Researchers

Changes for Volunteers

  • Transcribers
  • Proofreaders(previously ‘Checkers’)
  • Validators
  • Coordinators

Future Developments (for Researchers)

A rising variety of customers are accessing the online via telephones and tablets, reasonably than laptops and bigger computer systems – they count on an interface that appears good and works effectively on a small display screen. We expect we’re ‘nearly there’ on this.

We additionally wish to make the web site extra accessible. This work is simply starting.

We wish to sort out some points in looking, together with:

  • Place: The boundaries utilized by the census usually are not simple to visualise, usually cross historic boundaries (e.g. together with components of two counties) and alter identify and form – so even when the village or a part of a city your ancestor might need resided in, selecting which census district to filter by shouldn’t be simple, notably for these unfamiliar with the geography of the nineteenth century.
  • Names: The names utilized by individuals to document their hometown are faithfully transcribed. However this additionally makes looking tough, plus the individual coming into the information would possibly know that their residence village was in a single county once they had been born, and one other on the time of the census, and chosen both. So we’re trying into extra alternative of the way you search, together with a map-based search.
  • An excessive amount of alternative: It may be tough to know which of the various fields you need to fill in, so as to have the ability to determine the individual you’re in search of, however not rule them out because of one thing not being recorded fairly as you might need anticipated (we’re trying into Synthetic Intelligence to unravel this one for you).

We additionally wish to enhance the standard of the information we transcribe – up to now, we’ve had to make use of abbreviations and compress two fields into one, as a way to preserve throughout the spreadsheet restrictions of 20 years in the past. We’re shifting to a versatile spreadsheet (CSV) system which can imply transcribers can kind what they see in every single place.

Volunteers might imagine “I’m proud of what I’m doing now.” That is nice, you may preserve doing what you’re doing and we’ll proceed to understand your work. It is vitally invaluable. Alternatively, you may come alongside for the journey. You’ll find it’ll be a really thrilling one!


You should have an choice of both transcribing onto a spreadsheet as you could have been doing, or transcribing on-line. The spreadsheet will feel and look similar to the one you’re utilizing now, however there can be some adjustments.

Columns within the spreadsheet develop into fields within the FreeCEN database. Because the fields within the database have develop into extra versatile we could be extra versatile in what you enter in your spreadsheet. As an example, transcribers put loads of effort into making the Occupation match the Occupation column. That may now not be the case. It is possible for you to to enter what you see with out worrying in regards to the size and a few columns can be amended. Column H within the present spreadsheet, for example, accommodates particulars of unoccupied homes, individuals visiting away, buildings in progress and many others. however additionally it is used for the question flag. We’re shifting the question flag into its personal column. 

Within the on-line model, you may be coming into information immediately right into a database. You’ll, due to this fact, see subject packing containers in your display screen as a substitute of columns. As a substitute of your coordinator sending you photographs, through Dropbox, for example, the picture can be displayed in your display screen. When you could have transcribed all of the rows on a picture you then transfer on to the following picture. Every subject within the on-line database will precisely correspond to a column within the spreadsheet.

The net model can even seize the quantity connected to the picture. This may permit FreeCEN the flexibility to hyperlink the picture to the transcription and show the pictures on-screen for the researcher, a lot the identical as industrial websites do now. We nonetheless have to work out how we’re going to add this data to the just about 36 million data already on-line (as of November 2018) so the airing of photographs is one thing for the long run. Nonetheless, we will begin to gather that data with the net model.

One distinction between the spreadsheet and the net database is {that a} transcriber can cease and begin wherever they need. The net model is displayed one web page at a time so transcription has to cease on the finish of every web page, and never in the midst of a web page. One other distinction is that transcribers can share a census piece. The following obtainable web page is displayed to every transcriber (not the identical web page). As soon as a web page is transcribed it is not going to be exhibited to anyone else.

So, whether or not you select to maintain transcribing on a spreadsheet or to transcribe on-line, the adjustments ought to make transcription simpler.

When will all this occur?

The primary take a look at piece was transcribed in August 2018 and has been proofread and validated. We’re making a detailed audit path for this piece in order that the builders can refine the system.

There’s a take a look at piece obtainable on-line if you need a go. That is an 1871 Somerset piece that has already been printed on-line. It has been made obtainable for a number of individuals to transcribe, a web page at a time. As soon as it has been accomplished we’ll carry out a high quality verify to check the shared transcription with the printed model. We want to know whether or not our high quality drops utilizing this technique. You do not want to be a Somerset volunteer to work on this; anyone can provide it a go. For those who do give it a go, please give us feedback. That approach we will proceed to enhance. 

You may entry it at (hyperlink opens in a brand new tab). This model is a prototype model and due to this fact shouldn’t be very fairly. Nonetheless, we do have to know of any issues transcribers might expertise with it.


You’ll be utilizing new software program for the proofreading course of. (No, we now not have checkers – the transcribers’ work is being proofread. Transcribers usually are not being checked on!). 

Some proofreaders will keep in mind the previous WinCC software program, used earlier than we moved to proofreading spreadsheets. WinCC grew to become incompatible with fashionable working programs as it’s badly in want of an improve. It actually shouldn’t be appropriate with the brand new database format. 

This improve will occur along with the introduction of the net transcription system. As soon as the transcription trial is finalised we’ll know the design of the proofreading software program. We can even have the ability to make the choice whether or not this can be a web-based or offline course of, or whether or not the proofreader could have the selection. 

The trial transcription has been transformed to a spreadsheet and the Proofreader is utilizing a spreadsheet to proofread.


You’ll undoubtedly be utilizing new software program. Neither FCTools nor ValdRev is appropriate with the brand new database format. The validation course of is not going to fluctuate a fantastic deal. The most important change is {that a} map reference can be robotically connected to each Place of Beginning. This may have an effect on the best way that the Validator manages the Validator’s Alternative Place of Beginning the place the unique entry can’t be discovered. The event of the map location system is in progress (as of November 2018). As soon as once more we aren’t positive whether or not Validation can be on-line or offline, or whether or not there can be a alternative.


Coordinators have already seen adjustments in registration of recent volunteers. This may proceed however you should have two strategies of issuing transcription work: by sending photographs as you do for the time being, and by giving entry to on-line photographs. The Coordinator will add the net photographs to be transcribed from their grasp copies. The net software program will document who has labored on these photographs, so the Coordinator will solely have to preserve monitor of who’s engaged on the spreadsheet photographs. 

Coordinators can even have the ability to add their very own accomplished information to the database. You used to have the ability to do that however throughout the changeover to FreeCEN2 this perform was centralised to offer extra management. Importing can be devolved again to the Coordinators within the foreseeable future.

We’re about to offer every document (family) a everlasting URL. To do that, we not too long ago made the “FreeCEN2 web site” obtainable at, and the present web site The previous FreeCEN can be phased out sooner or later. We intend to develop new methods to go looking the information. 

The addition of map references is a method of doing this, for instance. As a substitute of getting to know the county border within the yr being researched, (or within the start yr of the individual being seemed for) a spot will have the ability to be chosen. This place has a map reference. The search can then be performed round that map reference. This is able to be clear to the top person. 

An instance could be a researcher sooner or later searching for me. I used to be born in Bristol, census county GLS. Nevertheless, I used to be introduced up 7 miles away in Somerset (Census county SOM). At any time when I fill in a kind I present my Place of Beginning as Bristol (that was the place the hospital was!). A future researcher could be annoyed looking the Bristol 1951 Census. I’m not there. I’m in a special county. Nevertheless, a search of 10 miles across the map reference would uncover my entry. A a lot better consequence for the researcher and for FreeCEN.

We have a tendency to consider a researcher as someone constructing their household tree. Nevertheless, there are different varieties of researchers on the market. A college scholar doing a PhD might have to determine the demographics of a particular geographical space in a particular timeframe. As a result of FreeCEN is an Open Knowledge platform we will present a knowledge dump of that geographic space for the coed to make use of. As soon as once more this can be a win-win for each the coed and FreeCEN.