Today we will revisit our employee records cards project, which we have been working on for quite a while now. Previously, we posted about it on our other blog, here. Yesterday we launched the public version of the card catalog. It is not completely done, but we wanted the public to be able to access it, and help us fill in some gaps.
First off, it is available online for public viewing here: http://tinyurl.com/LatMinesEmployeesCardExcel. If you have had family that worked for the Lattimer Coal Company, we’d like you to look for them in the record cards. We would also like to have your recommendations or corrections on the spelling of names. Then, we’d love to have you add family stories we can associate with the names in the records. Comments can be made here: http://tinyurl.com/LatMinesCommentsForm
Just to recap, here is the text from our original post:
One of the most exciting research sources we found this summer are employee record cards from the Lattimer Coal Company. These cards span the early twentieth century, in the period after the massacre and the Big Strike of 1902. There are 2,685 cards in total. They contain a huge amount of information about each employee including name, date of employ, age, nationality, country of birth (not always same as nationality), church, doctor, occupation, wage rate, and whether they have a miner’s certificate. Some cards include the word, ”Dead” scrawled across the front of the card. Some of these include notes on the back describing the cause of death for miners. Other notes include health issues identified by the company doctor.
And here is Katie Chen’s from the University of Maryland describing the process of transcribing the cards:
My strategy has been to go through the cards and make an initial attempt at deciphering the handwriting. After a couple days, I will go back to the cards and read them again. This method has worked almost every time, but some cards need more review time.
On several occasions, I’ve tried to look online to see if there is a name for the type of script used then. I have not been successful yet, but I’ve been able to look at specific examples, and get an idea of what the letter could be. Inputing data is rather tedious and can be frustrating, as I have spent more than 30 minutes looking at one card because I can’t read the names or locations. When entering data on locations, I will sometimes look up on Google if my spelling version comes up with any additional spellings. This has worked a couple times, which has been exciting. Otherwise, I will have to go back to taking a break for a couple of days and coming back to the cards.