Have you ever wondered how a website like findmypast.co.uk goes about scanning the information for us family historians to use before they put up online?
I mean what do they have to do to actually extract all that information from the government documents so that eventually we can go online and type in our search criteria and then get to see the results?
I watched this film and was fascinated by the facts…
There are 18 million pages of the 1911 census of England & Wales.
36 million people made up the population then, just before the First World War.
10 times the number of images than the 1901 census.
A team of 350 people worked on the transcriptions.
7 billion keystrokes were made by the transcribers!
2 Kilometres of shelving housed the 1911 census before the process of scanning started.
Watch it here.
Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate of findmypast.co.uk
Don’t forget how useful finding old newspaper articles can be when researching your ancestors. There are several online now and they can be a great resource for family historians.
But perhaps your ancestor’s life was not important enough to make it to the nationals? Well have you considered looking in the local papers? I’ve read a fantastic article about one of my ancestors, written at the time of his retirement and published in the local newspaper.
As many of you know I am particularly interested in the county of Devon, as so many of my paternal line comes from that county of England.
One of the biggest problems for me is that the number of Parish Registers on-line does not seem to be as great as for many other English counties. So here is some good news that I recently found on a trawl of the news sites..
Over 360,000 Devon baptism records have been published on the FindMyPast web site in the past month.
You are able to now search for your Devon ancestors in 363,015 new parish baptism records on findmypast.co.uk and these baptism records cover the period between 1813 and 1839.
It would seem that the Devon Family History Society has supplied findmypast.co.uk with these records, for which we should all be grateful. I know that I am!
Here is a link to the site, but first a warning to all those of you that don’t like the idea ofÂ promotion for compensation. This is an affiliate link for which I will be compensated if you decide to join!
A first for Ancestry.co.uk (Link is a compensated affiliate link) is their newly published “Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books, 1802-1849″Â This record set contains the incarceration records of nearly 200,000 people locked up in giant floating jails known as prison hulks.
The convicts’ records that are physically stored away in The National Archives in Kew, provide us with a fascinating insight into the Victorian criminal underworld and conditions aboard the Dickensian ships, which were created to ease overcrowded prisons.
Prison Hulks became an all to common place means to intern criminals during the 18th century. This was a time when many warships, previously used in naval conflicts were being decommissioned and then converted into huge floating prisons. Some of the ships that feature in this fascinating collection include HMS Bellerophon that saw action during the Napoleonic Wars, HMS Retribution, from the American Revolutionary War and HMS Captivity, a veteran of the French Revolutionary Wars.
The records Ancestry have put online, can show you who were imprisoned on these hulks and detail each inmate’s name, year of birth, age, year and place of conviction, offence committed, name of the hulk and, somewhat fascinatingly, character reports written by the ‘gaoler’ that provides an intriguing insight into the personality of each convict.
A an example, the entry for one Thomas Bones recalls that he was ‘a bold daring fellow, not fit to be at large in this country’, while the record for George Boardman explains ‘this youth has been neglected by his parents and been connected with bad company’. William Barton’s record simply reads ‘very bad, three times convicted’.
As well as featuring murderers, thieves and bigamists, the records also reveal examples of rough justice. Several eight-year-old boys were imprisoned on the hulks, as was 84-year-old William Davies, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for sheep stealing and later died on board the hulk HMS Justitia.
Sometimes we just need to accept that not every answer to your family history questions will be on-line. I’ve discovered this with my research into my British Family Tree, but it can be the same where ever it is in the world that you are looking for ancestors. You’ve searched for an ancestor using the various on-line tools and failed to find any trace of them?
The temptation is to believe that, because they don’t appear where we think that they should, that we are simply not going to find them. Well, what I need to remind myselfÂ when I am on the trail of my UK forebears, is that not every record for Britain is on the web and even for those that are mistakes have been made and omissions may have occurred.
Anyone with a British Family tree is well catered for by the availability of paid and free look up websites.
Taking, for example, my family tree in England. My 4 times great grandparents, John and Sarah Thorn for whom I had obtained their names from the baptism information that I had got from a search of the International Genealogical Index at familysearch.org for their son, also called John, my 3x great-grandfather.
Remembering what the family history professionals teach, that you should always use information that has been transcribed as a finding aid only – using it to seek out the original record, I visited the Devon County Record Office in person and looked up the microfiche copy of the baptism of John Brampton Thorn in St.Saviours church, Dartmouth on the 28th September 1794.
Having verified that their names were correct, on the IGI, I had then searched for the marriage of John and Sarah. I knew that a number of their children were baptised in the same church and that there was only one other possible child christened earlier than my great-great-great-grandfather in St Saviours in 1790, however it was not certain if this individual was of the same family of Thorns. I was hunting for a marriage around 1794. Frustratingly, there were no likely candidates in that particular church.
Searching the IGI around the area came up with nothing and so I expanded it outwards. With my “possible parish” list IÂ searched on-line for the marriage and came up with some in Exeter for 1793. Were the Thorns from Exeter? Well the answer turns out to be no!
Visiting, in person, the Devon Family History Society in Exeter I explained about my brick wall and the staff looked at their data for marriages 1754 to 1812 for a John Thorn marrying a bride called Sarah. At this point I had no maiden name for Sarah. After a few minutes, for the bargain price of only 15 pence I was handed a list of seven marriages. The very first of which was a John Thorn and Sarah Branton married on the 12 January 1794. The bride’s surname was to become the second name of their child and my 3x great-grandfather. The parish was not Exeter, nor anywhere from around Dartmouth, but Plymouth Charles!
Having obtained this information off-line I then went back to the internet just to check if I could have found it there. On the IGI there was no record and various other websites I went to all returned no matches either.
The lessons I learnt here, is that not every record is accessible on-line. Remember this in your family history research.