Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Civil Occupation Codes: What's Going On Here?

If you copied the transcriptions of WWII enlistment records from in the past, it might be prudent to do a search and see if the "Civil Occupation" has been changed.  

Depending upon when you made the copy, there is a very good chance that it has.  I don't know yet the date the records were updated/corrected.

As I mentioned in my post earlier today, I noticed that Ancestry's WW2 Enlistment record for my Great Uncle, Mandell Newmark, had changed since I copied it in 2007.  The Civil Occupation had been changed from "Bandsman, Oboe or Parts Clerk, Automobile" to "Salespersons."

It was my belief that the original transcriber of the record had misread the Occupation Code.  That is no longer my belief.  The Civil Occupations on other Enlistment Records I screen-grabbed back in 2007 are now different too.

Mandell Newmark
Formerly "Bandsman, Oboe or Parts Clerk, Automobile"
Now "Salesperson"

Seymour Feinstein
Was: Railway Signal Operator
Now: Salesmen and sales agents, except to consumers

Sidney Feinstein
Was: Foreman, Laundry or Foreman, Auto Repair Shop
Now: Foremen, services amusements

Cruvant Altman
Was: Barber or Lawyer (Attorney or counselor at law)
Now: Lawyers and Judges

It seems that the Occupation Code List has changed as well.

The original list can be seen on the Kansas GenWeb site

Their citation: Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, ca. 1938 - 1946 [Electronic Records]; Data Table: ENLISTMENT RECORDS; Record Group 64: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration; Series: World War II Army Enlistment Records, 6/1/2002 - 9/30/2002. (Online version on July 16, 2005 at

The current list can be found at (as/of today: Aug 31, 2011)

Their citation: File unit: Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, ca. 1938 - 1946 (Enlistment Records)
in the Series: World War II Army Enlistment Records, created 6/1/2002 - 9/30/2002, documenting the period ca. 1938 - 1946. - Record Group 64

The two lists are significantly different.

Comparing the old and new descriptions to the old and new Occupation Code lists reveals that in none of the cases above did the occupation code change.  The transcription error was not in reading the code.  The transcription error was apparently using the wrong list. Meaning this wasn't an error in one or two records. The error would have been in ALL of them.

Did or the National Archives ever make an announcement that they had erred, and that those who had looked up records before should look again?  It's very possible they did and I missed it.  Maybe others did too.


Carol said...

Have to say, this is quite disturbing. OK, MORE than disturbing.

John said...

It certainly reinforces the truth that a transcription of a record shouldn't be completely trusted *regardless* of how trustworthy you consider the source.

It appears we're talking about an error made not by, but originally by the National Archives.