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Berkshire Family Historian
September 1999

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main PageSeptember 1999 contents

Computer Forum

Eddie Spackman

Note: http:// is omitted in all web site references gives in this article.

Schools on the internet

Some months ago I found my name listed as an old boy of my school on its web-site. This suggested that other sites might provide information for family historians. Mine is an old school, founded originally in 1702, and the Old Scholars Association has a project to complete listings for each academic year. Their earliest reference so far is to pupils in the 1920s.

Recently I carried out further research and although there are many schools with some kind of presence on the Internet there are relatively few with references to old boys. So far I have found no listings of former students prior to the 1920S. The aims of ,school sites' are varied - some just supply information about the school to an ill-defined audience whilst others present an ethos of the school, its curriculum and prospectus to potential parents. Some web-sites are written by the pupils of the school as part of their experience. Unfortunately the majority of school sites are of no practical use to family historians although a few do have something about the history of the school. Perhaps we should encourage schools with a long history to create pages or accessible databases with details of their old boys?

To find potential sites I typed '+old +scholars' into AltaVista. This gives a substantial number of relevant links. Yahoo UK and Ireland gives 11 Berkshire schools listed under:
Home > Regional > Countries > United Kingdom > England > Counties and Regions > Berkshire > Education.

The longer countrywide list at:
Home > Regional > Countries > United Kingdom > Education > Primary and Secondary > Schools > Secondary

is longer and more interesting. Unfortunately the links and the accompanying information make it difficult to identify the location of many of the schools. Among other links for schools in the south are: for southeast England - for the south - for Berkshire.

Eton College at provides little information but has a page on the College's history from 1860 to the present day and some excerpts from 'A History of Eton College' by Sir Henry Maxwell-Lyte. Harrow School at has an'Old Harrovian Contacts Page'. Most of these are post war. They do however have a page giving a few 'Famous Harrovians' including Lord Byron, Sir Winston Churchill and Pundit Nehru. Among the more exotic is the site at for Brummana High School Old Scholars Assocation in the Lebanon. Some sites include pages to help old boys establish Email communication. In Berkshire, the Old Bradfieldian Society is at - it includes a page, but so far with few entries, on 'Where are they now?' Similarly, Didcot Grammar School has a DGS Alumnae at

Perhaps others will have more success in searching the Web for schools with information that can be used for family history research?

The 1881 Census

The Email group has been relatively quiet recently but it's not clear whether members are out in the garden or feverishly searching their newly acquired LDS CDROMs. However, there have been a number of postings about the 1881 census. The main problem one that must also be a feature of the fiche version - is "I cannot find 'so-and-so'". It is not clear if this is because the surname has been spelt in an unusual fashion or whether there are some missing entries. The main benefit of the CDROMs is the ability to search nationwide for individuals. Most of us have already done this using the fiche but the CDROMs make it much easier and most of us will have found some new entries for our family trees from this resource. It will be a first 'port of call' for most newcomers to family history research in the future.

There is a substantial review of the LDS 1881 CD census set by Barney Tyrwhitt-Drake in the July 1999 issue of Family Tree Magazine and an article by Susan Lumas on reported mistakes in the June 1999 issue.

Which ISP? (Internet Service Provider)

It is becoming more and more difficult to decide which ISP to join up with (or to change to). There are many 'subscription free' providers but, because their help lines are charged at around 50p per minute, they will be of less use to newcomers to computing and the Internet who need 'help' than the 'subscription' providers such as AOL, Compuserve, GlobalNet etc.

Some guidance can be obtained from the Internet magazines. Internet Magazine provides monthly ratings of the performance of around 100 ISPs. It is clear that there is a dramatic change in performance from month to month for many of them. In the August issue there is a useful article on the merits of the big six which also provide content - Compuserve, MSN, Virgin, AOL, Lineone and Freeserve.

It is expected that an announcement will shortly be made by AOL about free telephone access using an 00800 number. Some subscription ISPs (e.g. BTinternet) already give free telephone access at the weekend and is an example of a subscription-free ISP which gives free access both in the evening and at the weekend but only if you switch your telephone service to Localtel.

We await with some interest the introduction of the new ADSL system by BT. It is reported that about a quarter of British households and small businesses will be able to subscribe to high speed Internet access for a flat monthly fee starting at 40 - possibly next Spring - and will be able to use existing 'copper' phone lines.

Future contributions

If you have contributions to include in future editions of this column please send them to me at or to my address given elsewhere in this magazine. It would also be useful to include Questions and Answers on any Family History Computer issues you may have.

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Berkshire Family History Society 2001

updated 10th June 2001