The 1881 Census CDROM -
"Is this a suitable present for Christmas or a
It's often said that having milked the fiche copy
of the Census dry there is no point in buying this
CDROM. Many members of the email group would not
agree: "I am amazed at the ease with which
unknown facts are rapidly discovered without too much
effort from the Indexes, Neighbours searches and
Place searches. I consider that the British package
for under £30 is the best value for money of any
genealogical programme in my possession."
Another says: "The 1881 CDROM is an absolute
must. Despite having used the fiche index beforehand,
I have come up with a number of new additions to my
family tree after browsing at my leisure. More
importantly, through applying some lateral thinking,
I have managed finally to trace my Yorkshire roots -
after being stuck on this line for 35 years. At such
a modest price, it is excellent value for money. And
if you don't buy it, you will never know if you have
missed that vital clue." And a final quote:
"The 1881 Census CDROM must be the biggest
bargain in the history of mankind, let alone for
Other advantages are that married women with
unknown surnames can sometimes be found by searching
on forename with year and place of birth - if the
forename is relatively uncommon. Occupations with
long names or additional details are not truncated so
useful information may be found on the size of farms
and the number of people employed by the head of the
Some researchers have found it difficult to find
ancestors who were known to be living in Britain. One
reason is because the indexing of surnames is not
what one might expect - Oxford appears with the A's
for instance. Another is that names may have been
spelt differently to that expected. So, persist with
searches on alternative spellings.
Church Photographs - "Where
can I get hold of photographs of churches?"
There is an obvious interest in churches by those
who want to identify where their ancestors were
baptised, married or buried or where they lived or
went to church. Photographs add colour to what can
otherwise be very bald statements of dates and places
extracted from parish registers or a census.
There are now some internet sites which contain
pictures of churches. My experience is limited to
Essex which has a site with over 300 churches at www.debkay.clara.net/chindl.htm
and one started more recently for Hertfordshire with
over 6o churches at www.debkay.clara.net/chind21.htm.
So far I know of no site for Berkshire but perhaps
somebody out there would like to start one.
Another possibility for obtaining church
photographs is to go to the church web-site (if there
is one). These usually include not only information
about times of services and activities but also
photographs. Some may have the exterior - perhaps as
a line drawing - but if you are lucky there will also
be pictures of the interior and of other interesting
features. Some have histories of the parish (generally
rather sketchy). How do you find these sites? There
are several ways. Perhaps the easiest is to go to the
Diocesan Home page and find links to the churches in
the Diocese. A list of Home Pages for Anglican parish
churches and communities in the Diocese of Oxford can
be found at www.oxford.anglican.org/parishes.
Links to parishes in the Roman Catholic diocese of
Portsmouth can be found at www.portsmouth-dio.org.uk/diolinks/portlink.htm.
Another way is to use a search engine and look for a
Do you have an interest in
The 'Pubs, Inns and Taverns Index for England,
1801-1900' is a non-profit-making project to create a
nineteenth century database of all premises with
recognisable names, including hotels, coffee houses
and clubs, and their keepers. It was estimated in
lgoo that there were approximately 60,000
establishments in England, from which it is possible
to estimate that the finished project will contain
something of the order of 6,500,000 entries. At
present the database has over 317,000 entries.
Details can be found at www.pubsindex.freeserve.co.uk.
The Internet - Source or
At our Open Day one lady commented to me: "There
is really no point in going on the internet for
family history purposes as there are no authoritative
sources of data. Even if you do find information on
individuals you still have to go to the census or,
preferably, parish registers to get the details".
All this is certainly true, but we should not forget
that the real value of the internet is as a resource
for identifying and finding data bases. It is above
all a means of communicating information.
At some sites, such as the PRO at www.pro.gov.uk, it
is now possible to print off leaflets and identify
records before making a visit. In the years to come
we should expect to find 'authoritative data' on the
internet and indexes of births marriages and deaths
since 1837 and census returns. There are no technical
reasons other than political and financial - why
copies of original records should not be accessible.
As a start we already have access to census records
in Scotland (at a price). And, do not forget that the
IGI and ancestral records provided by the LDS can be
searched at www.familysearch.org. This has recently
been updated making it much easier to use and
modernising a vital resources"
Recently, a discussion document was produced by
the Office of National Statistics (ONS) entitled:
"Registration: modernising a vital resource".
It concerns the need to modernise the 160 year old
system for registering births, marriages and deaths.
The full document can be downloaded from www.ons.gov.uk and
printed. However, beware: the document runs to about
30 pages and with our modest 33.6 or 56 Kbps modems
could take lo minutes or more to download. It makes
interesting reading and suggests changes that are
required to meet the needs of society today and in
the foreseeable future. There are implications about
the data that will be available for family historians
in the late twenty-first century. Responses and
comments are requested on 28 questions. These had to
be returned by 6th Dec but those with strong views
might still wish to make them known to the ONS.
UK White Pages
Some people may not yet be aware that the UK
'white pages' are on-line at www.bt.com/phonenetuk.
This could prove a helpful resource for locating
areas of the country where families originated - but
only for those with relatively rare surnames. There
are also sites to covert postcodes to addresses and
Eye in the Sky - a glimpse
into the future
A photographic survey of Britain, described as the
new Domesday survey, which identifies "every
house, town and street" will be pictured on the
internet in "a real image depicting Britain at
the end of the Millennium". Half of the UK will
be visible by January 2000 and the whole by the end
of 2001. Perhaps this is another resource that family
historians will use to make their 'histories' more
interesting. The snag - only paying customers will be
able to view any location at a scale of 1:2000. The
site is at www.millennium-map.com.
One of the problems with writing for the Computer
Forum is that it is difficult to identify the needs
of those with computers who do not use the internet.
I would be grateful for contributions to meet your
Some are not connected to the internet because the
cost of telephone calls can still be very high -
especially for those who do a lot of surfing. I had
thought that by the end of 1999 there would be more
ISPs providing free access. In fact in the UK only a
few provide free access, usually only at weekends,
and these ISPs mostly charge a monthly subscription.
The future looks more hopeful as it is likely that
the cost of calls will have to fall to enable e-commerce
(buying goods over the internet) to flourish.