New Resource For Jersey Family History

I have had my attention drawn to a new resource for Jersey family historians by James McLaren from the CIFHS. He has pointed out that there is now a copy of the Victoria College entry register 1852-1929 on the web, courtesy of Old Victorian, Tony Bellows.

Although the format is a little awkward – the text is sideways on – the 4 files can be downloaded as .pdfs and by rotating them, someone doing research for ancestors that attended this island  school, will find them usable.

Well worth a look if you head over to:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/58994780/Victoria-College-Register-1852-1929-Pages-1-100Victoria College Jersey by Tony Bellows

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How Can I Find Parish Records In My Family Tree Research?

Online-Old-Parish-RecordsMost people researching their family tree in the British Isles will eventually get past the census collections and the civil registrations and must now turn to the Parish records to proceed further. While, recently, there has been a great many more parish register collections being made available through the subscription sites, it is still not the case that a family historian will definitely find their ancestors parish has been uploaded online. Getting back before 1837 in England & Wales needs researchers to know where to look for the relevant details

Even if, however, we accept that we may need to make a visit to a physical archive, in order to push our research on, then we can certainly turn to the internet in order to locate where the parish records are. As well as this the web can undoubtedly save our selves time, when we do make the visit to the particular County Record Office or other archive, by being able to gain information provided by their website beforehand. In some cases they may even have their catalogue online which would allow us to do essential homework such as finding call numbers for the documents that we wish to look at and perhaps even ordering them up before we arrive.

In most cases, probably as much as ninety-nine percent of the time, we will find that the Parish Records for our ancestors have by now been deposited at the County Record Office, while a rare few will still be at the church in the care of the incumbent minister.

So where should we look first online?

A good starting point is to head over to the ARCHON page that is to be found in the website of The National Archives at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk and is a list of all sorts of archives in the country. The lists include diocesan archives, regimental and many other depositories that have a bearing on social history and genealogy.

From the National Achives home page navigate to the Records page and then to Catalogues and Online Records scroll down until you see the link for Archon. you will now be given a list of areas in Britain to search each with its own link so we see North East, North West etc. Selecting the area that you wish to look up will take you to an A-Z of repositories and if you were looking for a county record office this will be listed there.

Click on the relevant list and you will now be shown the information that ARCHON has on the archive in question giving you opening times etc and a very useful link to the actual archive’s website. I say useful because this is where you are likely to find the most up-to-date information about when they are open, if they have any late nights or Saturday opening times and how to get to them by road, rail, or air.

The actual repository’s website will give you such information as to what types of ID they accept, whether they are a member of the CARN ticket scheme where with one card you can gain access to many Record Offices across the country. Also the low down on whether you need to book a microfiche reader in advance of your arrival etc.

Some archive’s even include their catalogue online, this being a very useful tool as you can find out, in advance of your visit, if they hold the documents that you are looking for and also it allows you to take a note of the “call numbers” for the documents. This will cut down on wasting valuable research time, when you first arrive at the record office and indeed you may be able to order up, in advance, the documents to be waiting for you.

ARCHON is a most useful internet tool for those of us who are thinking about heading to an archive to do some research offline and is one of the ways to go about finding parish records.

I will be looking at others in a future post.

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Family History Data, Should It Be Free?

There seems to be a trait among many family historians who all seem to want information to be available to them at the drop of a hat, for free and provided instantaneously as well.

Now, I’d like to raise an argument that this would seem to  defeat the object of much family history research. Is it not the thrill of carrying out a piece of detective work, in order to find an ancestor after ploughing through the databases online and then visiting the County Record Offices in person to read page after page of parish registers on the microfilm machine, that makes this pastime of ours fun?

Certainly, a good few newcomers to family history seem to believe that all they will need to is log onto the web, enter a name into a search box and they will instantly find their ancestors going back to Adam and Eve. Many do not think that they should pay anything for this, as if the state has some sort of obligation to give them the information on demand.

I don’t know if you have you ever looked into the searches that are carried out on the likes of Google for keywords? Take “family tree” as an example. I’ve noticed that the number of people typing in a search on how to get their family tree for free, was quite high. It would seem that some people express the idea that as its “their family” that they have some sort of right to be given the research.

When most of the newbies, to family history, find that they need to pay for a subscription to a website, in order to progress, they either descend into rudeness, or give up before they even get properly started. This latter scenario being an absolute shame, in my view.

From my website I offer a tips and tricks email which gives the people, who have signed up to my list, valuable free content. At the bottom of the email I often have an advertisement for my paid for products and it amazes me that I get aggressive emails back saying things such as “I’m not made of money you know”. To these people I would just like to humbly suggest that they enjoy the 98% of the rest of the email, that comprises the free tip, and just try to ignore the advertisement for my products at the bottom.  Do they have such a problem with commercial television, I wonder?

Expanding the discussion a little bit more, I’d like to bring in the arguments of the Open Genealogy Alliance – http://www.opengenalliance.org/

As I understand it, they are arguing that our public records should be made free to view online. They make the point that, in a large number of cases, many public records have now been licensed to private companies. These business need to make a return on their investment and so the public can only gain access to the data if they pay for it. The OGA are challenging this idea, saying that the digital versions of, what are, public records are effectively being privatised.

In my opinion there certainly needs to be some sort of balance, the record offices and archives are all facing up to the shortage of funds in the present economic climate and perhaps we should all make a bit of an effort to go out there, whenever possible, and visit the various archives more often. A vicious circle where they many have to cut their hours, due to less visitors coming to see them and reacting to spending cuts could see the record offices and archives closed or amalgamated.

Until absolutely every record is available online, a situation that is never likely to happen, then we family historians should stop expecting instant records to be available to us at our finger tips. And, what is more, I do think that we need to get out of depending only on our computer and just go out there into the world to find the information for ourselves. Believe me, it really is much more fun that way!

What do you think?

The National Archives at Kew
The National Archives at Kew
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More Parish Records Online for Family Historians

I am spending a lot more time trying to find Parish Records these days and it is refreshing to see that more are making it onto the internet.

Take, for example, the two major sets of records that consist of data for generations of residents of Liverpool that Ancestry.co.uk released in April of this year. Three million Roman Catholic and Church of England baptism, marriage and burial records, fully searchable is a fantastic resource for those family historians researching in this major English city.

The Liverpool Catholic Registers, 1750–1900, span 150 years  and contain 1.6 million Catholic baptism, marriage and burial records. These will be of particular interest to the 136,0002 Liverpudlians today of Irish descent.

The 1.8 million Liverpool Church of England Parish Registers, 1659–1974, will equally be a significant resource for those tracing ancestors from the Protestant community of Liverpool. When one has got back before 1837 and the time when Civil Registration came in, these Parish Registers are the best way to find births, marriages and death records. No doubt this data set will really help people to trace their northern ancestors back to the 17th century.

The records, contained within these two particular collections, span over four centuries and witness the development of Liverpool from little more than a small town in the 1600s, to one of the UK’s largest and most culturally diverse cities.

It was during the 17th and 18th centuries that Liverpool’s population steadily grew. Come the 19th century, Liverpool expanded to become the second port of Britain and also one of the major centres for the trading of cotton, the importation of food and raw materials, the exportation of manufactured goods, coal, the insurance industry, banking and, of course, shipping.

The release of a database for a city such as Liverpool, with its many parishes, will allow family historians to search many parish records at once, a valuable time saver. The fact that people will be able to see digital copies of the original records is also another significant plus point for this Parish Records release on the internet. Not having to rely on transcriptions is a real bonus for researchers. Looking forward to more such releases in the future.

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Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers

So, you have been researching your ancestors through the census and have gleaned the name of the town that they were born in. You now have to find the parish in which your ancestor was baptised in and perhaps you have been lucky in getting the parish name from the census. Now you want to find out where exactly it is and carry on your research back before 1837.

The Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers

The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, Phillimore & Co Ltd; 3rd Revised edition edition (1 Dec 2002) is the go to resource for family historians who are dealing with the “Old Parishes” of England, Scotland & Wales. The third edition of this index features the addition of a map of the whole UK that shows the county boundaries before 1830 and it has shifted to a reliance on census indexes, rather than marriage indexes, which are now summarized in a paragraph.

 

In what I’ve written above I refer to the Old Parishes. What are these, you may be asking yourself? The answer is that they are those, approximately twelve and a half thousand parishes, from before 1832 and the Victorian expansion of towns and cities. It was then that many of the ancient parishes were divided up with the building of new churches to cater for the expanding population.

 

The Phillimore Atlas and Index is an abstract made in 1831 of the records that had survived for the parishes of that time. The book gives the family historian maps of the ancient parishes, along with names and the dates of the earliest surviving registers for each of the named parishes. Now these could be back as far as 1538 or much much later, depending on their survival against fire, flood and a variety of other reasons for them going missing.

 

Taking a look at the Index section you would see that you are able to find a list of the old parishes for the county that you are interested in. You will find the dates for when the registers were deposited and a code against them that will tell you where the records are deposited in the various record offices.

 

Now, you should be aware, however, that it is possible that not all three types of records may have been deposited yet. The baptism, marriage and burial registers may have filled up at different rates. The registers are only ever deposited when they are full as they remain a working document until such time. So, take as an example, a parish where baptisms are only done once in a blue moon. Here the register that they started in 1813 may still be with the church as it tortuously slowly received children into the faith! (1813 was when the new registers came into existence.)

 

The Atlas and Index is effectively a synopsis of parish registers and if there is nothing in the column for baptisms then you could assume that it was still with the church in 2003, when the last revision came out. The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, can be found in most municipal libraries or can be bought from all good bookshops and at Amazon.co.uk

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Another Good Reason for Joining the Society of Genealogists

I got an email today as I’m a member of the Society of Genealogists. It gave me the good news about some of the new records that have recently been added to SoG Data Online and which can be accessed free of charge from home by members of the Society.

The first is: “The Apprentices of Great Britain records” which list apprentices from all over the country between 1710 and 1773, and even some from 1773-1811.

If you have London ancestry back in the 17th and 18th centuries then the next data set that is available via this site and could be of great use top you is the “Boyds London Inhabitants”.

Thirdly the “Teachers Registration Council registers” will be of use to those with teachers in their family tree. Although the latter commence in 1914, they include teachers who started their careers from 1870-1948. Over 100,000 people are listed, more than half of them being women.

Next is “The Trinity House Calendars” which gives details of a number of merchant seamen and their families. The petitions for assistance from the wives/widows of seamen who have either been injured or have died are full of biographical detail.

There are now nearly 10 million records on SoG Data Online. To access them you need to be a member of the Society of Genealogists and then you can login via the MySoG link.

www.sog.org.uk

Society of Genealogists.

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