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Berkshire Family Historian
September 1999

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main PageSeptember 1999 contents

Extracts from 'The Bulletin'

Editorial - the 1901 Census
Chaiman's Notes
Sandhurst - missing baptisms uncovered
Soldiers Who Died in the Great War 1914-1919
An unusual entry from the 1871 Census
Parish relief fraud
Family Records Centre
And finally ...

Editorial - the 1901 Census

Nineteenth century census records are freely available on fiche and film, and some have been published. Like many other county family history societies we have transcribed and indexed the whole of the 1851 census, while recently the 1881 census of England, Wales and Scotland was produced on CDROM. When it comes to the census for 1901 the PRO has decided that it should be made available in digital form on the Internet.

There are more than 32 million names on the 1901 index on something like 2.5 million pages. In order to cope with the huge influx of researchers expected at the Family Records Centre it seems sensible to use modern technology to make it available. Given the timescale for the digitisation process the PRO decided to seek commercial partners under the Private Finance Initiative.

A number of companies expressed interest and a shortlist is now under consideration. One of those companies - the Defence Evaluation Research Agency - has recently been carrying out a survey on how much family historians and demographers are prepared to pay to use the first census of the twentieth century. This particular company is looking at a number of options. One of these is a large one-off fee, a figure of 10,000 is being suggested, which would give a researcher unlimited access for a lifetime. Another possibility is a quarterly fee of perhaps 500, or a system based on pay as you use. This may be something in the order of 10 for half an hour, or paying for the number of records you use for each visit to the site.

Given that these records are in the public domain, most family historians must ask themselves whether or not they wish to pay such exorbitant fees in order to look at the new census material, or if they will use alternative sources that are freely available. Also if this is a sign of the times, how much longer will it be before birth, marriage, and death certificates at the Family Records Centre will be subject to commercial companies milking what has until now been relatively free from the profit motive?

Chairman's Notes

Dear Members

June and I hope you enjoyed your holidays.

The Society has been concerned for some time about its corporate image. A small group from the Executive Committee led by our Secretary has been working with the Department of Typography at Reading University on this initiative. They have been looking at how we can improve the image of the Society by using modern typographic design.

The first tangible result of this work is the new look Berkshire Family Historian that you are now reading. We hope that you like it. The principle aims of the new look magazine have been to give it a modern look; to improve the quality of the paper on which it will be printed so that we may have better reproduction of photographs. Last but not least, we wanted to produce an attractive marketable product that we can sell to non-members through the bookstall.

The Executive Committee would welcome any comments that you may have concerning the new look magazine.

You will notice that John Gurnett has assumed the editorial chair. Catherine Harrington has been our Editor for some eight years and she now feels it is a good time for a change. We thank you, Catherine, for all your hard work with the Berkshire Family Historian during that time.

I am writing this soon after the contents of the Research Centre was put into store. During the early part of July a group of volunteers led by our librarian carried out a complete stock cheek on the Research Centre Library and packed the whole collection into boxes. Then on a hot July Saturday about fifteen volunteers came to Prospect College and we loaded the entire stock, furniture, fiche readers and all and transported it into store. At the same time some volunteers remained at the College to tidy up the remnants. It is amazing how much junk we removed. I would like particularly to thank Lesley Hanna who organised the stock cheek and packing; Ed Pearce who masterminded the removal operation; Chad Hanna who played the part of trucker and Eddie Spackman who loaned the use of his camper van. To all the other members who gave their time so generously - thank you.

I am able to report that the refurbishment work at Yeomanry House will be entirely completed by August 8 when the building will be handed back to Reading Borough Council. That is the good news. The bad news is that both entrances to our new premises remain stubbornly behind the security fencing of the contractor for the new Record Office.

We are continuing to find a way of gaining at least temporary access to the premises so that fitting out can commence. I fear, however, that fire regulations will mean that we are unlikely to open the new Centre before January 2000.

At the Annual General Meeting in June Ron Dobree was re-elected Treasurer of the Society. Unfortunately this was the last time he shall be able to do so. Next year Ron will have completed five years as our Treasurer and this is the maximum an officer of the Society can serve under the Constitution. So we need to find a new Treasurer before the AGM in June 2000. It seems to me that the sooner we are able to appoint a 'shadow' Treasurer the better so that we have the maximum opportunity for a smooth take-over. If any member feels able to take on this important role please contact me. I have a job description if you need to know more about the work.

Also at the AGM I was able to announce the prizewinners of the 1999 Display Panel Competition. A judging panel of Jean Debney, Chad and Lesley Hanna and I carefully examined the seven entries. We considered the logic told by the presentation; the evidence of additional research; the use of colour and space and the overall impression of the entry. The clear winner was the entry submitted by Dr. Barry Jerome of Southampton who won a leather briefcase. Second and third places were tougher to decide but we awarded second prize to Chris Sibbald of Maidenhead and third prize to Walter Townsend of Bracknell who won vouchers for the bookstall. Chris was able to come to the meeting to collect her prize. Well done by everyone who took part.

The Society will be staging the third Maidenhead Family History week from October 2 - 9. This is staged in conjunction with the Maidenhead Heritage Trust. The Society will have a display at the Maidenhead Heritage Trust Shop at the Nicholson Centre at Maidenhead.

Needless to say we require volunteers to staff the display during the week to assist the public with their family history questions. You will be encouraging newcomers, or those resuming their research, to use the facilities at the Research Centre and to advise them on the benefits of belonging to a family history society preferably Berkshire. In other words you are selling family history as a hobby or pastime. So if you live in the east of the County why not help to run the event. June and I have found it very interesting during previous years. If you are able to help please ring me at any time.

lvan Dickason

Sandhurst - missing baptisms uncovered

The damaged parish register for Sandhurst covering baptisms 1696-1812, marriages 1696-1753 and burials 16961812 has recently been made available at the Berkshire Record Office. The original had suffered from water damage and it was thought that the records would be lost forever. New materials have enabled a conservator to separate the folios and they have been photocopied. The copy is now available in the search room, together with an index and transcript of the missing baptism and burials.

Soldiers Who Died in the Great War 1914-1919

The Society has purchased a copy of the CDROM version of Soldiers Who Died in the Great War 1914-1919 that contains 703,000 names in two sections: soldiers and officers.

An unusual entry from the 1871 Census

2 Leopold Road, Reading (Ref. RG10 1284 Folio 72), home of George Amor, a baker at Huntley and Palmers. Among his family was a baby girl aged 30 minutes, born at 11.30pm. Did the enumerator wait outside the door to see what sex the child was before filling his return?

Parish relief fraud

Peter Shilham, who runs the Selon Index, covering south and south east London, came across an early fraud while searching through some 1833 parish relief records. A pauper was getting relief from the parish and from the Catholics down the road, simultaneously. Clearly a case for the Parish Constable, or the Fraud Squad.

Family Records Centre

A computerised index for births in Northern Ireland is available in the Scottish Link area of the Public Search room. The index contains births for the years 1922 - 1993 inclusive. Use is free but time, in half hour slots, must be booked at the Scottish Link desk.

And finally ...

Peter Shilham, also came across the a death certificate for a man named William Crapp, who died of 'Inflammation of the Bowels'.


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updated 10th June 2001