Talk:World Archives Project: California Railroad Employment Records, 1862-1950

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Feel free to add to or edit information in this discussion tab as necessary. Please take time to become familiar with the General Keying Standards and be sure to read all instructions on the main project page. (Please note that in case of a discrepancy, project level instructions always trump general keying standards.)

Extra Keying Helps

Common Keying Errors Found by Reviewers

Please remember to:

  1. Replace "&" with the word "and".
  2. Key the occupations.
  3. Payroll period 1-15 is keyed as 15. Please key only the last date of the two dates given.
  4. First or last day of period - day should be left blank.
  5. Please do not key periods after initials, abbreviations and in the occupation field.

Example of reviewed errors

Example of reviewed set

Time and Payroll Sheet:  Some pages contain two Time and Payroll Sheets, one on top and the other on the bottom of the screen. Often one or the other is being overlooked. Please scroll the full length of the screen so you won't miss any names.

Drop Down Dictionary Suggestion List:  Besides the exceptions found on the project instruction page, key as seen and don't be afraid to use the F7 key (accept field as correct), especially for given and surname entries. Do not default to the drop down dictionary suggestion list over keying what is seen. Use the drop down dictionary suggestion list only as a tool. It does not mean you have to choose one of the suggestions. On this particular project you will have to use the F7 key quite often.

Questions and Answers

If you have a keying question that is not answered on the project page or in any of the information above, click “EDIT” and ask it here. (If you click on Rich Editor you won't have to worry about formatting your entry.) Then click “WATCH” at the top right on this page and you will be notified via email when an update has been made. 
General, Choice of Form Type, and What Records to Key and Not Key 

Q: I have come upon an Occupation that I cannot decipher. The individual is listed as "Trackwalker [next line] and Clean Oil ????" Do I enter [Illegible] for the entire Field or simply type [Illegible] for the word I cannot make out.  I've read ahead and don't see anyone with a similar occupation listed.  

A: Since we are now able to use wildcards, use them, according to the eying standards, we enter two question marks representing one or more illegible characters. "Trackwalker and Clean Oil ??". Note that if the reviewer knows what the words after clean oil are, he or she will enter it instead of the wildcards.Paulmd199 21:28, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Q: When you have an image with two different payroll forms (one below the other) do you key payroll 1 as Section 1 and payroll 2 as Section 2?

A: No they should all be keyed on section 1. -- Wiedwoman 23:13, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

Q: I have a Pay Roll page with the heading "Deductions".  There are some actual names in the name column but no occupations are listed.  The dollar amounts are in the Balance Due column.  Should these names be keyed?

A: Yes, we are keying all records that have names on them - except those with only business names. Annafechter 14:08, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

Q: On the record I just came across on the first line 1 it states: B&B Gang #24 cout'd and on the line 2 is where the names start and so on. Do I need to key in "B&B Gang #24 Cout'd" on line 1? or Do I skip that and start typing the names on line 1? Or do I mark line 1 as blank and skip to line 2 and start typing the name? Is this title "B&B Gang #24 Cout'd" even necessary? What about when titles like "B&B Gang #24 Cout'd" appear in the middle of page? Are those marked as blank? Or as they skipped and ignored and the keying of names just continues? Or do I need to type "B&B Gang #24 Cout'd" as well when it appears in the middle of the page? Please explain. Thank you, Sal --Saulo4fun 18:07, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

A: Just begin typing the names as they are listed on the page. The first name you come to will be the first to be keyed. Since there is no header information being taken at this time, you don't need to worry about the "B&B Gang" information. Just capture the date and names. --Pgift1977 18:22, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
A2: Note the word is probably "cont'd" for continued, and not "cout'd". --Paulmd199 21:30, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Q: What about the numbering on the page? Do I skip line 1 and go to line 2? Since "B&B Gang #24 Cout'd" was listed on line 1 I just want to make sure. Because if I go based as how it's listed on the page, that means that i have to put the first name on record 2 right? --Salvatore Dikassir 20:50, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

A: Skip the line on the page that does not have keyable information. So in your case the line 2 will be record 1. -- Wiedwoman 20:58, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Q: Ok just want to clarify. I will skip line 1, so that means I will have to click on Cotrol+Shift+B to blank out record 1 and start typing the name on record 2 correct? --Salvatore Dikassir 21:03, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
A: do not have blank lines in your records. No control+shift+B 'Ing. It is not necessary to have any blank records --. Wiedwoman 21:32, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Q: If names are listed under a section number, do we need to key in blank entries for that line so that the record numbers for names correspond in the image and in the entries or do we continue to key names as if the "SECTION #" line isn't present on the image?

A: Do not key blank entries. Skip the section number lines. -- Wiedwoman 04:35, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

Q: If the additional record number does not match the row number in the image, should we key names in the order of the record numbers?

A: No. Key names in the order that they appear on the page. -- Kateshort2 18:04, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Q: On images like this do you want the duplicate lines keyed? On some images they will show a person on two lines with different occupations. I know those should be keyed if they show different occupations. But these are showing same occupations.

See Example

A: From Anna: Key just once per page. We don’t need them multiple times." June 30, 2010 -- Wiedwoman 12:32, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
But if there are duplicate names with a different payroll date, they would be keyed. -- Wiedwoman 21:57, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Q: Need some clarification please: When I encounter duplicate names with different occupations, I incorporate the different occupations into one record (using the once per page answer given above). Per the question above, duplicate names with different occupations are being keyed as two records. So then, should we literally key names once per page or key multiple times if the occupation is different (assuming the same payroll date)?

A: A few examples will help with this answer.
1. Thomas Ray Machinist
Thomas Ray Cook
Enter these names as two separate entries.

2. Thomas Ray Mchnst
Thomas Ray
Enter the above as only one record. "Thomas" "Ray" "Mchnst" unless there ate two pay dates then you would enter both records on two lines.

Q: I have a form that says "Recapitulation" at the top. Then, in the name column, there are what appear to be the names of locations. Examples: Artesia, Brea, Compton, etc. There is nothing in the occupation column. How should I key it? -Sarah

A: Unlike the previous version of this project, there is no header to key, so if there are no actual names to key on a page (such as for a page of business names, section names, or locations), change the form type to "Cover Page, Section Header, etc." -- Kateshort2 18:04, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Q: I was reading when there are blank lines between information we are to ignore those? An example would be when there is a title on the first line before the names and occupations occur. I just want to confirm that this is correct. Unless I am missing something, I have reread the instructions for this project and cannot find anywhere where this is discussed.

A: Ignore blank lines, but use the occupations for the lines following it. -- Wiedwoman 23:59, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Q: If a red line is drawn through someone's name are they to be entered?

A: If a name is crossed out and not replaced we are to key the name. This is in the general keying guidelines. -- Wiedwoman 23:59, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Q: How do you key payroll pages that include businesses, list of deductions, and recapitulation?

A: Lists of deductions, and recapitulation records, as well as any records that have the names of individuals on them, should be keyed. If there are business names mixed in with the names of individuals skip over those and enter the names of the next individual in the next record in the keying tool. Annafechter 14:08, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
If there are no individual names on the form, it should be classified as a cover page.

Q: The data sets that I have been entering are two sheets for one data page. They are arranged on the screen one above the other. So far, they have all been the same so entering data was no problem. I have run into a page where the two sheets would be classified as different form types. The top portion is "Cover Page, Section Header, etc." but the bottom section has names to be keyed. Do I just ignore the top portion and key it in as if there were names on both parts?

A: Key this page as a Name and Date form. --Paulmd199 06:11, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

Q: On a payroll sheet, I have several employees listed as "furloughed for war service" each with different dates, no occupations. Do I key them?

A: Yes, they should be keyed. Is there a date at the top of the page? If so, use that date. -- Wiedwoman 20:59, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Q: I know we are to key individuals on all pages including the deduction and recapitulation pages. What about names that are listed on the right side of the page mixed in the payroll amounts? Do we include them as well?

Record Date

Q: How do I key a payroll day that is listed on the document as "1st Period"?

A: Day will be left blank. -- Wiedwoman 00:24, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Q: Instead of a day some of the payrolls I'm seeing have 'second period' stamped over the '.... to ....' slots at the top of the page. Should we be leaving the day field blank or entering the last day of the relevant month (e.g. 31 if it's July)? Haven't seen any 'first period' ones yet but in this case would it be 'blank' or '15' we should enter??

A: If there is no day listed it should be left blank. -- Wiedwoman 14:20, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Q: On Supplementary Rolls for adjusted wages, the record date is listed as: "for the period May and June 1916 inclusive, during the month of April 1918." Which month and year are keyed?

A: Use April 1918 as the date. -- Wiedwoman 00:51, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Q: When the date (day) changes on the same page, do you just simply change the date (day) or create a new section?

A: As there are no headers for the payroll list you would just change dates on the form. -- Wiedwoman 00:36, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Q: If you have a date stamp of Aug 14 1918 and a time period of 1 to 15 which day date do you key 14 or 15?

A: If the date is beside the name, you would key that date. If a date is not beside the name, use the date at the top of the form which usually says 1 - 15 or 16 - 30 (31). Key the last date such as 15 for 1st - 15th or 30 or 31 for 16th - 30th (or 31st). -- Wiedwoman 16:49, 6 September 2012 (UTC)


Q: Surname problem: in the surname column is only a number preceeded by a pound sign. How should this be keyed?

A: You would key as first name only with surname blank. Such as "S N #39" would be keyed: Given: S N 39 and Surname: Blank. We haven't figured out what these numbers stand for. Maybe a Chinese that had no name or maybe a section number where they worked? --Wiedwoman 23:53, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

Q: If there is a record number after each name, should we key that as a suffix?

A: No. Don't key the record numbers that sometimes appear at the end of each name. -- Kateshort2 18:04, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Q: On an image the first half of the pay period has R Werderman and the second half of the pay period has Robt Werderman. These are on the same page. Should I key them as 2 separate records or key as Robt Werderman?

A: Since it's possible these could be two different people, key both. -- Kateshort2 18:04, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Q: Names column has Chinese names, Occupation column has English names--no occupation listed. How do I key this record? Just the Chinese names, then continue with the English names, or ignore the English names?

A: These are 1860's era forms. We should probably key the Chinese names and then continue with the English names (revised answer). I think the English names are their supervisors. Remember not to key company names. -- Wiedwoman 12:38, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Q: Given name is "Robt." and I would assume that is short for Robert, do I put abbreviated name or Robert?

A: Key as Robt. Do not expand names (or occupations). -- Wiedwoman 18:43, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Q: I have come across a writer who has W, next to it is a " and above the ditto is a small letter n. What does this mean?

A: Are you saying given name is W"n? Key as Wn. Could be Washington, but key as seen. -- Wiedwoman 14:31, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Q: At the top of some of the payroll pages it gives the name of a supervisor. The one I'm looking at now reads, "For Services rendered in the M. of W. Department, under the direction of W. F. TURNER DIVISION ENGINEER." Turner's name and occupation are stamped in red. Should I key him as well as the employees listed below with pay details?

A: We do not key names that are in the upper section, nor at the bottom of the payroll sheet. -- Wiedwoman 14:39, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Q: I'm confused. Instructions say not to use symbol ' when transcribing, but in keying sample you use it for O'Connor? In what way to we not use '  ?

A: ' can be used on surnames. They are not used for given, such as Sam'l would be keyed as Saml. We do not use any punctuation in the occupations.

-- Wiedwoman 18:19, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Q: On a payroll page that has employee signatures on each line, is it appropriate to use the signature to help decipher the name? As an example the name “Brawn” appears in the listing but the signature is clearly “Brown”.

A: yes Signatures should take priority. --Paulmd199 19:14, 17 December 2012 (UTC)


Q: I just came across an occupation that is listed as "Yd Engr" yet the drop down list only had expanded occupations.

A: Key the occupation as seen. F7 to accept. -- Wiedwoman 17:57, 12 July 2011 (UTC)
However, note the exceptions to the "key as seen" rule in the Occupations section of the main wiki page for this project. -- Kateshort2 18:04, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Q: I am probably am getting counted down for not typing Do but, to me, DO and DO DO mean ditto. If we're not to type the " marks and instead repeat the last occupation, isn't it correct to do the same when DO or DO DO is used?

A: Do and Do Do would mean that you would key the same information as the line above. So if the occupation of line 1 was laborer and line 2 had "do", you would enter laborer for line 2 and so on.

Q: How should records where there are odd entries in the occupation field, like location, be keyed?

A: Per Anna - I would leave the occupation field blank. -- Wiedwoman 00:10, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
See Example

Q: Do we include the numbers preceding the actual job? i.e. 7 Trkwalker -- 09:06, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

A: No -- Wiedwoman 16:14, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
See Example

Q: Do we key the word "overtime" in the occupation or it that just the payrate?

A: No. -- Wiedwoman 02:47, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

Q: Do we key the word "do" in the occupation field or copy the occupation from previous record?

A: No, key the occupation from the occupation from the previous record (F3) -- Wiedwoman 23:28, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Q: If the occupation is listed as "Sec Stkpr Sec 1 2 4", do we key the entire entry or just Sec Stkpr?

A: I would only key Sec Stkpr. -- Wiedwoman 15:42, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

Q: I have a document where there are no occupations listed. But above the first name on the list, in the occupation column, it says "Trainman". There are no ", or do in the following occupation fields. Do I just leave the occupation blank for everyone?

A: If is it showing in the occupation column, I would key all the persons as trainman. -- Wiedwoman 17:54, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Q: How do we key 2 occupations for the same person if there is no & present? How do you know that there are 2 different occupations?

A: If it were listed as Clerk and then Typist under it, it would be keyed: Clerk Typist. -- Wiedwoman 17:52, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Q: The payroll image I'm working on states in the header that the occupation for the employees listed is "Conductors". Should I key in "Conductors", "Conductor", or leave the field blank in the occupation field of the employees?

A: Key as Conductors. -- Kateshort2 02:33, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

Q: I understand that if an individual has two occupations that we are to simply put "and" between them.

A: Do not add the word And unless it (or &) is specifically listed in the occupation -- Wiedwoman 23:01, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Q: One individual had 3 occupations, two of them were 3rd and 4th Operator. The occupation box would not allow two numbers. What would you advise here? Do we input the name twice and put the two numbered occupations as separate entries OR simply delete one of the numbered occupations?

A: Use the F12 key to allow typing of numbers into the line at the top of the box and then click "ok". Key multiple occupations on one line. -- Wiedwoman 12:52, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Q: The paylist I'm working on shows the occupation for the first name while all subsequent names have ditto marks for the occupation--EXCEPT a name in the middle of the page which has the digit 2 for the occupation.  I've verified that typewriters of that period had ditto marks as the shift character for the number 2, so the 2 is very likely an error.  How should I enter the occupation for the name that has the 2; and all folllowing names that still show ditto marks for the occupation?

A: Key as if it was a ditto. -- Wiedwoman 14:45, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

Q: I am keying a set of images where the first individual on each of the first four pages is identified as conductor.  Obviously I would enter conductor for him.  However, for the rest of the page there are no " or do or any other type of mark listed - it is just blank.  In the page heading though, it says "For services Trainmen..."  On the fifth page of the set (same page heading as the previous four), the first person is identified as motorman, farther down someone is a Cond. & Mot., next person is Motorman, etc.  Is this record telling me that we have four pages of conductors and mostly motormen on the fifth page, or do I enter "trainmen" for the occupation for each of the men whose occupation is blank?  I am thinking trainmen, but am I correct?

A: We don't know for sure if the other persons on the page are conductors, trainmen, etc. I would leave the other lines blank. I've been accepting them when they do key them as the same, but I would leave them blank. -- Wiedwoman 02:47, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

Q. I have a list of people who all have the same occupation "Blacksmith", with ditto marks down the page. In the middle of the page there is a name with one ditto mark and an added word "Hdyman". After that entry the ones below it only have double ditto marks.I am confused as to whether the names below the Blacksmith Hdyman name should be just Blacksmith or Blacksmith Hdyman.

A Styles individual clerks use may vary somewhat, you will have to interpret best as you are able. I hesitate to guess without looking at a image, but from your description I think there is only one "Blacksmith Hdyman" and the others are Blacksmith--Paulmd199 05:48, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: I have been keying in records, and it is getting difficult and/or discouraging to not know if I'm doing them correctly. I keep reviewing the notes. In looking at the Occupation instructions on putting "blanks" between them. So is this never and/or when it looks like there's no blank or what?? I keyed in a list of names with occupations of "F B" where the "F" was on the very left and "B" on the very right of the Occupation column. I don't even know if these were truly occupations and/or summaries of ?? Should I have keyed them as "FB" or "F B". In previous keying I keyed "F B Clerk", etc. So this is why I wonder if they are truly occupations.

A: I would prefer to see an image on this one. Could you upload one here or on the message boards? "FB" vs "F B" will not affect your accuracy, but I'm also not sure if these are truly part of the Occupation or not. If you click on this red link File:CalifRR.jpg, you will get an image upload dialog for your sample. --Paulmd199 05:48, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
I submitted the page already. This tells me perhaps I should stop keying when I'm not sure and ask before continuing. I studied the page over and over, and it seemed to look like a regular payroll page. All names were names versus company names, etc. I'm still not sure on the "blanks" because the keying tool has occupations with blanks and nonblanks when them seem to say the same thing. Such as "F B Y M" and "FBYM" are both in the keying tool. So which way is correct? And "4Man" is in keying tool, but instructions say to key in "Foreman" not "4Man".
You should put the spaces if the original document has them, and if not then not. Keying "Foreman" when the record says "4man" is the one exception to the normal key as seen rule on this project, it is because numbers are difficult to type in Occupation field. --Paulmd199 06:14, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Q: The occupation field in the set I'm working on appears to contain the identity of the engine or car that the employee was working on or transferring.  The heading at the top says "Tranferring B/O cars"  Should I just leave the Occupation field blank unless it is clearly an occupation?

A: Yes, things like places in the Occupation field should not keyed. --Paulmd199 19:14, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Class of Service

Q: I am working on a Payroll Record that has a column "Class of Service (See Note)". The note says: "Indicate Class of Service by using one of the following symbols: F = Freight P = Passenger L = Local H = Helper M = Mixed W = Work S = Switch D = Deadhead B = Back-up CR = Coal Run". This payroll record does not have an occupation column. Is this the occupation? If it is do I input the codes shown for the payee such as F P and W? Or do I input as Freight Passenger and Work?

Q:  I notice there is no answer to the above question.  I also have the same question.  The payroll form lists that it  is for "Conductors" and there is no column for occupatoin. But in the "Class of Service" column, it lists a number of things, including: "Frt", "Pass", "Hua", "T Bch".  Other than "Frt" the other names are not in the dictionary.  Am I to use "Conductors" or the odd acronyms under the "Class of Service" column?

A: I'm not sure on this, but I would key what is listed under class of service column as the occupation. -- Wiedwoman 23:53, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

Q:  I have a class of service column as stated above with no occupation column, but in the header, it says "Time of Firemen period last month of...".  Should I list Fireman as the occupation for everyone on this page or list the class of service as the occupation?


In reviewing I've come across a list of names of employees fired for various causes i.e. 'drunk on duty', along with the dates of termination, occupation, etc. Should this have been keyed at all since it's not payroll? If it should have been keyed would it be 'name only' or 'name and date' form?

A: There are many of these lists where employees were fired. They would be classified as name and date form. -- Wiedwoman 17:36, 4 July 2012 (UTC)


This 1864 file has signatures on some of the men on the right hand side of the document. It is acceptable to use a signature when a name on the left such as Wm is signed William. If it is signed by someone else, you may want to use the name on the left side. But the ones that are actually signed by the person should be correct, as they mostly know how to sign their names. Use the most complete full name.

See Example

Q: Are we keying the signatures at the bottom of the payroll pages?

A: No

Do not list the payroll examiners name listed at the bottom of the payroll forms.

Keying Sample

Name and Date

CA RR Keying Sample 1.jpg

Record Date Day Record Date Month Record Date Year Prefix Given Surname Suffix Occupation
31 Jan 1919 John O'Connell Foreman
31 Jan 1919 Carmen Silva Trackwalker
31 Jan 1919 Alejandro Tafilla Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Jacinto Garcia Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Ascencion Casares Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Pablo Hernandez Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Tiburcio Gomez Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Juan Ramirez Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Antonio Garcia Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Justa Gardinas Laborer
31 Jan 1919 John Delay Foreman
31 Jan 1919 Abundio Merlende Trackwalker
31 Jan 1919 Jesus Rodriguez Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Martin Rodriguez Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Cruz Gandara Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Antonio Perales Laborer
31 Jan 1919 David Roque Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Carmen Rodriguez Laborer
31 Jan 1919 Homer H Cone Laborer

Payroll pages that are Receipts

These should be keyed as a payroll page.

Payroll Page