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Berkshire Family Historian
March 2002

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, March 2002 Contents

Email Discussion group

Eddie Spackman Contact at .

Following the comment by our Chairman in The Bulletin of the December issue of the Berkshire Family Historian that: 'I believe the majority of active family historians now use computers', it will come as a shock that very few of our members (about 15%) subscribe to the Email Discussion Group and that fewer than 1 in 10 new members join. Why?

I suspect that there are several reasons. The main one is probably that many are unaware of its existence or unsure of its purpose. As with the Research Centre and some other activities of the Society, the Group may have been mentioned in articles but there is no regular 'advert' in the Family Historian to say what it is all about or how to subscribe. Some may think the Discussion Group is solely for those with Berkshire interests. Others that it is only for experts. Another group may say it is only for the computer experts. I have also heard it said that many emails are naive. The truth is that it is a medium for discussion of any topic of interest to members of the Society. It can be invaluable to those who are just starting their family history research and those just beginning to look in the computer world both for 'data' and contacts with cousins or others researching the same line. Those new to using computers will find friendly and helpful ears as they gain confidence in using email and surfing the Internet. It is also invaluable for passing on important and time-critical information (e.g. about dates of meetings which have to be changed or have been incorrectly advertised).

As the average number of messages per week rarely exceeds 30 it meets both the needs of those who cannot manage the 30 or more per day of some county Rootsweb sites or need a site where they can fire off an enquiry or comment on a topic of interest to family historians which would be unsuitable on their favoured lists. At the time of writing it is useful for canvassing the experiences of others using the new 1901 PRO census site at

To subscribe to the Email Discussion Group send an email to giving your name, postcode and membership number.

I also wonder how many have looked at our website at How often do you revisit the site to see if there is anything new? (There is a 'What's New' link on the home page for this purpose.) Do you recommend the site to friends? Did you know that the publications pages frequently provide information on books and our new publications before they appear in a formal booklist? An order form appears on the site and payment can be sent in Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and US dollars as well as Euros and Sterling but we do not provide any electronic means of purchase.

Most of us who maintain a website also value any constructive comments on it - especially those which identify methods of improving presentation or navigation. It is only very occasionally that I get any comment so it was not only gratifying but also exceedingly helpful to be told recently: 'I am researching my family and frequently visit the site for information on the area. I have found it very useful and helpful. I viewed the joining/membership page. I found the contact names for membership queries but no email addresses. Please don't take this as a criticism of the site as it is one of the most useful and easy to use that I have come across.' Would others agree?

Our website is intended as a source of information on Berkshire, but not 'data' - yet. It is certain that many members will have noted important information that does not appear on our site. What would you like us to provide? One particularly valuable aspect of websites is their expandability. We currently use about 25% of the capacity provided by our host so there is plenty of space to fill; if you have a contribution to offer please send it to .

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Berkshire Family History Society 2002

updated 29th May 2002