BerksFHS Logo  

Berkshire Family Historian
December 2002

upBerks FHS indexContents

Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, December 2002 Contents

The Bulletin

A word from our Chairman

As I write in October there is much going on in the family history world, so I’ve had a little difficulty deciding what to write about. I’ve chosen two subjects, the 1901 census and moving to publishing on CD ROM.

1901 census

As many of you will already know, at long last the 1901 census is back online and from our experience in the Research Centre it is working well. When we print images of the pages from the enumerators’ books we have clear and crisp results with the unfortunate black border. However, some of you are finding difficulties using the index. It seems clear to me that contracting out work with a tight deadline to the Indian sub-continent has not given high quality results. It has been alleged that the entries were transcribed twice and checked; if so, the second transcription was largely a repeat of the first and the checking was generally cursory. How else can we explain a clear Charles on the image being transcribed as George? Certainly the 1881 census project that so many of us worked on years ago stands up very well in comparison. For the 1901 what I suggest is firstly that you use large amounts of lateral thinking to try and find a way through the index to your relative, they’re probably there but mis-transcribed by either the enumerator or transcribers. Next, that you save and print the invaluable images of the census enumerator’s book and avoid the transcript except in certain special cases. A transcript may be the best solution for an institution, as the institution’s name does not occur on most pages. We are continuing to sell the vouchers at a 10% discount, at least for the foreseeable future, and volunteers are on hand on Tuesday evenings in the Research Centre to help you with the 1901 Census and other genealogy sites on the Internet.

Other genealogical sites include the recently updated International Genealogical Index on the FamilySearch website and the new FamilyHistoryOnline site that you helped to test (vouchers for this are also available from the Society, but no discount for these — sorry!).

Moving to CD ROM

I found the results from the June questionnaire you completed with your renewal form very interesting. Our Society is already taking some of the results on board and actively pursuing a program to publish more on CD ROM.

Those of you who already have microfiche readers may find it difficult to understand the need to move away from microfiche to other media. There are two very persuasive arguments:

First, the majority of our members have computers that almost certainly have CD ROM drives - they would rather, not have to buy a microfiche reader if they could buy what they need on CD ROM.

Second, it is all very well to say, ‘Visit your local library’ but even there we’re finding the microfiche readers are giving way to Internet computers.

There are difficulties for those who don’t want to use a computer. I could repeat the argument that computers are now much easier to use than they used to be but for some (you may be one), I am left with a feeling that dealing with a computer will always be unwelcome. And let’s face it: even I would agree that it’s easier for a novice to get something out of a microfiche viewer than out of Adobe’s Acrobat Reader. There are, after all, only four ways to put a fiche in a viewer, you do have to figure out how to open the tray and then find the switch to turn the thing on. Even in a library there are occasional problems, the magnification is not what you need, a mirror inside became dislodged when the viewer was moved, or the bulb has gone. All these require moving to another unit or asking for help from a supervisor. Finally you do have to work out how the information is organised on the fiche.

With library computers there are different problems. What happens if you take your own CD ROM to the library, or a Cyber cafe? Will they let you use your CD ROM in their computer? They might if they knew it was something safe like an Adobe Acrobat file, but almost certainly not if it needs to copy a program from the CD ROM to the computer’s own disk drive as many need to do.

These search programs are all very different and of varying quality. Sometimes you need to scratch your head to get anything off the disk. In the case of some, like the Nottinghamshire FHS CDs, you might have to scratch quite hard.

For a computer novice in most libraries finding information on the Internet is the easiest way forward. The help on hand has been taught to understand the Internet. Genealogical information is as far away as clicking on Search on the menu bar, typing in ‘International Genealogical Index’, ‘FamilySearch’, ‘freebmd’ or ‘Genuki’, pressing the Enter key and clicking on one of the underlined links that soon appears. Nevertheless we can and must continue to support those who don’t want to use a computer. Our postal research services will fill much of the need; we understand why many of you prefer paper and we’ll investigate the cost-effectiveness of short production runs on paper.

Crew lists

Just published a Crew List CD giving seafarers’ details from the Crew Lists and Agreements from 1863 to 1913. The original files have been collated to produce a master name index of more than 269,000 records. The data has also then been sorted into the records matching particular vessels so that it is possible to follow an individual’s career through the crew list records, and work out which ships he served on. The records have been drawn from Crew Lists, Crew Agreements and Log Books held in local record offices in the British Isles and at the Public Record Office, Kew. The vessel index can provide surname, forename, date of birth, place of birth, name of the vessel, previous vessel and date started. No doubt a copy will soon be in the Research Centre, but it is available at 29.95 from

Gamekeepers Index

If you have a gamekeeper in your family you may wish to know that there’s an index to them which covers most of Berkshire. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries gamekeepers had to have a licence from the quarter sessions and this list of licences has been indexed for most of Berkshire. In addition, on an annual basis (usually in September), local newspapers published the complete list of licensees. To consult the database send a stamped addressed envelope each name to Dolina Clarke, 22 including a cheque for 3 for Portobello Grove, Fareham, Hants P016 8HU.

Berkshire on the Internet

The Berkshire Record Office has a revamped website at If you intend visiting the Record Office it is worthwhile using the onsite search engine to find the precise records you wish to examine. The Berkshire Local History Society has a new website at which contains details of member societies as well as a queries page. Strange Britain at ??? has pages on Herne the Hunter, and the history of the ghost of Bisham Abbey’s Lady Hoby. The Britannia website at has pages on historic places and the people of Berkshire. If you are interested in highwaymen and footpads then contains the fascinating history of some of our most famous highwaymen including Dick Turpin.

General Register Office (Scotland)

The General Register Office for Scotland’s contract with Origins.Net for the ScotsOrigins service expired on the 31st August. A new contract was awarded to Scotland On Line to create a new ‘Scotland’s People’ service, as ‘the official online source of parish register, civil registration and census records for Scotland.’ The new website at contains almost 37 million names, the database being one of the world’s largest resources of genealogical information and one of the largest single information resources on the web. It provides a fully searchable index of Scottish births from 1553 to 1901 and marriages from 1553 to 1951. In addition, indexed census data is available from 1891 to 1901. From the results of an index search made on this site it is possible to save and print images of many of the original documents, and order extracts of any register entries of interest. Such requests are forwarded automatically to New Register House, and the requested extracts are mailed out.

Open University

The OU is starting a short course on writing family history which begins in May next year. The course is designed for beginners researching in the nineteenth and twentieth century with an emphasis on oral, visual and narrative evidence. This course will help you to interpret and write about family history. Further details can be found at: 12.dll?C02A173.

Reading University courses

Sweet Suburbia: the rise of suburban Britain 1850-1950. Seven Tuesday afternoons from April 29. The development of the rail network established many dormitory suburbs around our towns and cities. From these suburbs commuters would travel to work creating new lifestyles and social change. This course explores the development of suburban life.

Exploring local history. Saturday day school on May 17. This is designed for those wanting to explore the history of their own town, village, or street and also provides an opportunity to meet others researching local history.

Telegrams and telexes

Earlier this year BT Archives appealed for examples of telegrams and telexes related to news of significant events, or which were sent to, or by, people of note. They were also attempting to find the oldest telegram in existence. The earliest telegram so far identified is held in the Essex Record Office archives. It is dated 1846 and was sent to Mrs. Harrison, a grocer, informing her that her husband would be home by the first train in the morning. You may not have an earlier telegram, but you may well have one of national significance, or one sent by an important person. If you have then let BT Archives know. Their address is BT Group Archives, Third Floor, Holborn Telephone Exchange, 268-270 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EE.

British Vital Records Index second edition

The set of discs contains 10.4 million baptism entries and 1.9 million marriages. Church and civil records are included and entries range from 1530 to 1906. It costs 22.95 and is available from the Church of Latter-day Saints, 399 Garretts Green Lane, Birmingham B33 0UH.


My apology for omitting the crucial page from the accounts published in the September issue of the Berkshire Family Historian. No excuses, it was a careless mistake and I should have picked it up before it went to print. The missing page can be found on page 123 of this issue. Once again my apologies.

Bracknell Family History Fair

Finally, don’t forget to visit us at the Fair on Sunday Janury 26 2003.

Web-page produced by DandyLion Services
Please contact the webmaster with any queries
Berkshire Family History Society 2002

created 10th December 2002