During a discussion at the 2009 Annual General Meeting of GSSA it became clear that the 1984 Voters Roll could provide an invaluable source of information for members of the GSSA. The transcribing of the 1984 Voters Roll was approved and became arguably, the largest project of the GSSA. It was appropriately named the Elephant Project – to be eaten bit by bit. The project was announced on the SAGen Mailing List. 72 Members of this list contributed close to R 30,000 for the photographing of the more than 171,000 images making op the 1984 Voters Roll. The aim was to make the contents of the Voters Roll available to members with the added extra, of an index of the maiden surnames of married women. Family Registers are often incomplete because married women are not listed alphabetically by maiden name on any voters roll.
The original plan was to use very specialized equipment at the GSU/LDS library but the equipment was only available for a few hours a week – it would therefore have taken a decade to produce the required number of digital images. Commercial Scanning equipment was tested both locally and overseas but that also did not provide image quality suitable for Optical Character Recognition. Several tests locally and by specialists overseas, made it clear that scanning would not provide quality sufficient for OCR – It was therefore decided to go the long route of photographing the images from a fiche reader and transcribing the images manually.
The initial photographing was completed soon enough – Under/over exposed photographs were replaced where necessary.
The transcription process:
- The photos were divided into batches. There are 251 photos in every batch (or fiche).
- A fiche, with 251 images, was sent to a volunteer.
- The volunteers transcribed all the names according to specifically developed guidelines.
- Completed transcriptions were uploaded to our Yahoo database. For obvious reasons, access to the database was restricted to the volunteers only!
- A name and number count was done on the 7th of every month during the transcription process.
- The KSL transcribers used a dedicated mailing list to enable ongoing contact and problem solving.
The diligent work of all the volunteers culminated in the production of a DVD containing 572 Excel Files each with up to 5271 names, the complete 1984 Voters Roll. Just under 3 million names with birth dates, surname and full names, maiden name, addresses and the occupation of the person according to Home Affairs in 1984, were recorded. 109 Transcribers transcribed 430 complete fiche and numerous other transcribers contributed by partially completing records.
The Project leaders
Dennis Pretorius Martie du Toit
Photography and Distribution Quality Managment
Apart from purchasing the DVD, (see the information on the Welcome Page of our website www.genza.org.za). members will also be able to purchase Data from the web shop that will become available on the website soon.
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; They just have the heart.