Of all the stories about Ancestry.com's indexing triumph, this one stands out.
US genealogy site Ancestry.com has now completed indexing and digitizing the entire US Census from 1790 to 1930 – featuring more than five billion names.
Ancestry.com's team spent 6.6 million hours of labour deciphering handwriting from 13 million original census documents and 21.9 billion keystrokes manually entering information into the database. [Link]Five billion names from 13 million census pages over 15 censuses? That comes out to about 385 names per page, and would give the United States an average population in those years of 333 million.* This is odd, since our population isn't supposed to reach 300 million until this fall.
Also, they managed to type in 5 billion names with only 21.9 billion keystrokes, meaning that the average American's name was only 4 or 5 letters long. Notwithstanding "Cher," most American names ramble on for at least 6 or 7 characters.
This is what happens when you read a press release too quickly:
The addition of the complete census collection makes Ancestry.com the most comprehensive genealogical database ever compiled online with more than five billion searchable names.
*The average population would be even higher since only the head-of-household was named in the first six censuses, and the 1890 census was mostly destroyed.