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Berkshire Family Historian
March 2002

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, March 2002 Contents

Research Centre

from Colin Brown, Caversham, Reading

As a library assistant at the Centre I am often surprised at the way members and visitors restrict themselves to what is on computers and to the published 1851 census material available for the rest of the country. Seldom do people look into the library proper.

There are four books of maps for London, showing almost all the houses in all the streets at four different periods in the nineteenth century. There is a set of fiche of almost all the parish registers of Surrey from the earliest date to 1850 There is a book for Lancashire giving details of what parish registers exist, where they are and the dates they cover, including those of Liverpool and Manchester.

Few people with Wiltshire interests can fail to find something relating to their families in the large books on the bottom shelf under Wiltshire. The Berkshire Poor Law books make fascinating reading in their own right, but if you have interests in Berkshire or in the adjoining counties it is unlikely there will be nothing of interest. And lots more.

However, how often do visitors even glance at all this material? The answer must be seldom. A lecturer told me: 'If it's not on computer most people don't want to know'. It's a great pity, isn't it?


from Bob Brock, Slough

I was interested in the letter from Sue Hedges in the last Berkshire Family Historian, and in the Chairman's column. I think there's a link here. I have to admit that, despite thinking about it a few times, I've never yet visited the Research Centre. As a full-time worker, mostly commuting to London during the week, the only time I have for research is in the late evenings or the very occasional weekend. Unfortunately this rules out most times the Research Centre is open, so that's one resource I've yet to use. The one time I did think I might be able to pop in was when the rest of the family was shopping in Reading one Saturday, but of course Saturdays are closed days, so that was a non-starter. As a consequence of the limited research time I have available, I tend to do most of my research from the comfort of home - using PC and Internet - the main attraction being that I can do so when I have the odd half hour to spare. This brings me to Chad's point - PCs are not that good at reading microfiche, so publications in that form are largely useless to me. I've been carrying round a members' interests fiche with me for two years now without having been near a fiche reader. However, publication on CD-Rom or even on a paid-for website would be a boon. I realise that my situation is different to that of a lot of researchers, who may have more time available, or not be as comfortable with computing resources as I am, but I hope these notes may help explain why at least one member has not yet used the many valuable facilities at the Research Centre.

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Berkshire Family History Society 2002

updated 28th May 2002