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Berkshire Family Historian
June 2003

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, June 2003 Contents

Birth Brief Q & A

We have received a number of letters in response to the note in the December issue of the Berkshire Family Historian on our intention to make available via our website a surname index of peoples included in Birth Briefs. The following Questions and Answers are intended to cover the concerns expressed.

What’s the difference between Birth Briefs and Members’ Interests?

Both list ancestors or family surnames that you are researching and aim to put you in touch with others who have similar or identical interests. Members’ Interests list a surname with a place or county and a period of time. Other people with an identical listing may or may not be connected to you. Birth Briefs are more precise: they list individuals with sufficient markers (eg year and place of vital events) to enable you to judge if you are connected or if they indicate someone in whom you are interested.

Why are you placing a Birth Brief Index on the website?

To make it available to a wider public and so increase the chance of members being contacted by a cousin, for example, with whom they can share information and research.

What are the disadvantages of putting the Birth Brief Index on the website?

We state that the information is only supplied on condition that it shall not be used, or supplied to another, for commercial purposes. However, there have been instances of information on similar websites subsequently appearing without permission elsewhere. We cannot guarantee that this will not happen, but we will monitor to whom we supply information and will refuse to supply if we think that the information is being misused.

Can we object and have our Birth Briefs removed from the Internet?

Yes, of course.

Why only five generations? Why isn’t my Birth Brief included in full? Do I have to start with myself?

This standard ascent format used by most family history organisations allows 16 surnames to be listed if the five generations are completed. We may go another generation or two in the future. To include the 15 generations on one Birth Brief or the 360 persons on another would verge on publishing what is your intellectual property. That is your responsibility, not ours. Anyone who suspects common ancestors at an earlier period can contact you. Equally you can use the Member’s Interests format to draw attention to earlier ancestors.

You are not obliged to start with yourself, although most people do. Some members start with a grandparent. Other members start with their children in order to include the family of their spouse. But this results in name-only entries for the three generations born less than 100 years ago.

Why are you not giving full details of persons born less than 100 years ago? My surname is fairly common and unless you include these vital records it will be difficult for people to know whether or not they are related to me.

We are very conscious of the recent Data Protection Act and the possibility of unintentionally breaking the restrictions. Have you checked that all living persons in your Birth Brief agree to their private details being made available to the public? Even if you have, and many submitters have not, for obvious reasons we must treat all Birth Briefs the same. Therefore we will be cautious in what we include.

Why are the Birth Briefs that I submitted not in the index?

There could be two reasons:

We have not finished entering all the Birth Briefs that we have on file and may not have reached yours.

Perhaps the Birth Brief you submitted is in a non-standard format, in which case we are leaving it until all the straightforward Birth Briefs are entered. Some Birth Briefs are descent charts and another is a couple of pages copied from a book.

Can I include questions on my ancestors?

Some Birth Briefs arrive with questions such as ‘I don’t know what happened to my great grandfather, can you help?’ The BFHS volunteers and office holders cannot undertake research on your behalf. The magazine and the website list the searches that you can request, and how you can contact researchers.


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Berkshire Family History Society 2003

created 29th May 2003