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A black eye from the history Guy

Column: Kelli Du Fresne

Sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel. It seems no matter how hard I try I’m always getting a black eye from the history Guy.

For those who don’t know him, his name is Guy Rocha, he’s the state’s assistant administrator for the Library and Archives, and he’s probably one of the biggest pains in the neck I know. He’s awesome.

He has a mission. It’s to tell the truth.

Sometimes though the truth is not nearly as much fun as the fables and tales that evolve over time, but after all is said and done it is history.

Guy called after last week’s column about Anna M. Marrew.

She doesn’t exist.

But Anna M. Warren does. She was the fourth woman in Nevada to be admitted to the state bar. She left Storey County in 1903. She died in Reno in July 1944.

A product of the Gold Hill schools, Anna Mudd taught school before marrying Charles D. Warren in 1887. He died in 1891, and Mrs. Warren “fitted herself for the duties of a court reporter” said her obituary found in the Aug. 1, 1944 edition of the Reno Evening Gazette. She became a member of the Nevada State Bar on July 29, 1899, and was an attorney in Washoe County and served as the United States Commissioner for Nevada from 1913 until her death July 31, 1944.

I found Anna Marrew in the online census for Nevada http://www.nevadaculture.org when I searched for female attorneys living in Storey County in 1900. I never found her again, and likely wouldn’t have as she is listed in the 1880 census as Anna Mudd and as Anna M. Warren in the 1910 census in Washoe County.

The university students charged with typing in the hand written census sometimes saw Ms as Ws or Ts as Fs and there are a number of misspellings and errors that need fixing.

State Historic Preservation Officer Ron James said he’s fixed more than 1,000 files since the census went online last month.

He has developed a few tricks for searching and finding people. Some I maybe wouldn’t have thought of such as looking for Tannehill spelled Fannehill. Anyone who has ever looked at a hand-written 19th century document can sympathize with the students who filled in the census form while reading the census documents. James said students put in more than 310,000 records – an average of 55 an hour.

To thwart the system, James advises searchers to “back into” what they’re looking for and use any field pertinent to what you’re searching for.

“Students were moving very rapidly encoding all the fields,” James said. “A capital T is often interpreted as an F. If a Marrow turns into a Warrow that’s obviously a problem. But with the name fields you can start with the first letters.”

James advises putting in an R to search for a Richard and to pare down fields to keep from getting bunches of responses.

“If you’re looking for someone living in Humboldt County, make sure you put Humboldt County. If you know its a woman put down F for female. If they have a first name that wouldn’t necessarily be misread search for that too. Then you can start looking for last names and see could one of these be misunderstood for the name I’m looking for?”

James encourages seekers to keep trying to back into it to see if it’s a problem. “If you find the person you’re looking for and see there’s a typo let me know so I can correct it.”

To contact James, choose the webmaster link at the bottom of the screen.

“It’s an ongoing process,’ he said. “We really need the public’s help with this.”

Another great field to search is the “browse adjacent records” field. This could show you the neighbors of the person you are looking up.

“It shows you who was recorded presumably in the neighborhood,” James said. “Enumerators would go and come back, but in general it works.

Kelli Du Fresne is features editor for the Nevada Appeal.