I am a huge fan of working with original rather than derivative versions of records, but every once in a while, a published work comes along that is of such a caliber as to make it not only a necessary addition to the home library, but a highly functional one.
Such is the case with Macon County, NC in the 1850 Census: A Snapshot in Time compiled by Barbara McRae and published by Teresita Press, a small, private press founded by McRae that specializes in the publication of genealogical and historical information, particularly in record transcriptions.
A Snapshot in Time includes a transcription of not only the free population schedule from the 1850 US Census, but also includes transcriptions of each of the other schedules for this census, including mortality, agriculture, industry, and slave. The free population and agriculture production schedules are intermingled so that on each page one may find the household as it was enumerated in the free population schedule at the top of the page, and running along the bottom (on that page or within a few pages), one could see the same household’s farming output, if any were made for that household. The whole is fully indexed and bound in a tight spiral binding.
The best part of A Snapshot in Time isn’t its completeness or the well-organized index; the best part of this work is in its accuracy. Inevitably, in any derivation, errors creep in, most notably due to misreading the scribe’s handwriting. This work is no exception; however, the errors are so minimal as to be overlooked. When one compares this book to microfilmed versions of the 1850 US Census for Macon County, one will inevitably find the names transcribed correctly, and when one thumbs through the index, one can be reasonably certain of its completeness.
Such accuracy is the hallmark of a professional of McRae’s caliber. A long-time editor of The Franklin Press, Macon County’s paper of record, McRae also writes a long-standing column for the paper called Know Your County, which focuses on the area’s historicity. McRae cut her genealogical teeth with the column, and moved on to Records of Old Macon County, North Carolina, 1829-1850, a wonderful abstract of Macon County’s earliest deed books that has been reprinted by Clearfield Company, a division of Genealogical Publishing Company.
McRae has, alone and with the help of others, compiled derivations of other important early records for Macon County, many available through Teresita Press. Researchers of the old Macon County area are fortunate to have such resources to use as a supplement to the original official records.