Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dear Santa

On the offchance you've won the lottery since Christmas Day and are trying to find that perfect extra gift for me, might I suggest this?

Ascott Cup 1887

Thursday, December 16, 2010


A few days ago FamilySearch switched over their beta site to their main site - if you haven't been over that way in a while, go and scare yourself. A perusal of the Adjustment Guide confirms the following things:

The International Genealogical Index is dead - or, at least, no longer part of the main site, so as good as. The Guide admits that those patron-submitted records with no sources were of "limited value" (yes, those are the precise words we all used too, aren't they?) and deserved to be jettisoned - we're right there with you. RIP IGI, I suspect we will remember you more fondly than your flaws deserve.

The free Personal Ancestral File (PAF) software is also banished from the main site. PAF's retirement has been coming for a long time - farewell, our elderly friend!

RIP batch numbers - gone too are the good old days when you could run a search specifying a particular batch number for a particular place. This is distressing news (no, I don't want to search the behemoth that is the 68-million-and-counting England Births and Christenings database, I'd actually like to narrow it down a lot first, and by the way births and christenings are two very different things), so I guess we must learn to have faith in FamilySearch's new-and-improved Place field.

The 1881 census is only temporarily AWOL - phew!

I actually found the Guide helpful, not so much from the "where is it" perspective but for the clear insight it gave along the way into the fundamental principles behind the changes. I was pleasantly surprised by how eminently reasonable it all sounded.

However I shall bite my tongue and rant on the inside wait until I've had more time to fairly evaluate the other aspects of the changes before commenting. Some of these are most definitely improvements, lest you think I'm not super-excited about scanned original source records being available online for free, because I can't get enough of that action. More, more, cries the greedy genealogist!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why indeed

Amy of the We Tree Genealogy Blog periodically publishes Fun With Search Terms, a very entertaining look at some of the phrases that bring people to her blog. The search phrases that bring people to my website are invariably on-topic and thus not quite as amusing, but over November people out there pondered:

* why did they build Wing Buckinghamshire (why, indeed, I'm just happy they did)

* "gommon recipes" and "partridges larded" (I'm more intrigued by a kid with a pudding in his belly myself - what kind of pudding? Incidentally, I now have this cookbook as a ebook on my Kobo so I shall look it up and find out)

* effects of over plaiting (depends on whether you mean hair or straw, apparently pregnancy is a side-effect for the latter)

* compare hamlet and an extract from the office for receivers (?)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Who are you?

The following photos were provided by Linda, a descendent of the BOLTON family. Can anyone identify anyone in these photos?

Update - the cap features the badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regt.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Family Historian - data conversion comments

Now that I have "real" genealogy software, I had to convert my existing data. The initial steps were relatively simple - export from PAF to GEDCOM, import GEDCOM into Family Historian, hope for the best. Unless a really obvious error is flagged by the import process, you can only look to see that everything looks approximately okay (because we all have photographic memories and can remember all the details of the hundreds or thousands of people in our family tree off the top of our heads, right?), then look at some sample individuals you do know well to see exactly how everything has translated across into the new software.

First comment: I really should have some official sources for myself, my brother and my parents. My dad was the only one with an external source - look, I can prove he exists as I have a copy of the birth announcement in The Times (London). Turns out I (or, rather, my genealogy software a.k.a. my other brain) even know what hospital he was born in!

Second comment: for census records I had previously been adding two separate events/attributes in PAF, one for the census and one for the residence(assuming the address was more specific than just the name of the village). Family Historian enables you to attach both a place AND an address to any fact, so I would now need to go through and consolidate the census information together into one fact. Also on the address front, there's a nice feature to list all the places in your database, identify the near-duplicates, check out which records they are attached to, and tidy them up so they are recorded exactly the same if appropriate - nice!

Third comment: I use the Notes field in PAF to record the research process for that person, search terms I used, records I know exist and might be useful but that I can't access, general comments or snippets about that person, and more. This has come across a single note for each person but can now be split up into different types of notes in Family Historian (including notes that apply to the family group rather than the individual).

Fourth comment: I seem to be avoiding looking into the whole source citation area - I suspect there is some cleanup required on this part of the conversion. A perfect time to tidy up all those sources, but possibly a big job. I'll ease into it by reading the chapter in the Family Historian guidebook first!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

A Christmas present for me

I've finally done it - I've purchased genealogy software. After almost a decade of genealogy in my life, it was certainly time! No longer will I putter along in PAF (although I'm sure it will continue to sit on my USB drive in case I ever need to refer to it while out and about), I have a shiny new copy of Family Historian to use instead.

Of course, timing not being my strong point, I chose to purchase this now knowing full well I'm going to be reformatting the computer in a few weeks time so will have to reinstall it. But, on the other hand, shiny Christmas present for me!

When the shiny present feeling has worn off, I'll be sure to post on the trials and tribulations of converting and checking my PAF data.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Mastering MyMaps

The first custom map I created using Google MyMaps shows the location of mills in Wing. Over at the One Place Studies website I created a map showing the location of each one place study listed. This was intended to make it easier to identify neighbouring one place studies, which of course could be across county or country borders. I hit a small snag, though, when I got to the 201st study - after 200 markers Google MyMaps paginates the list of markers. The impact of this is that when looking at the embedded map you don't see any markers on the map that aren't on the first page of the marker listings (or, rather, aren't on the same page as the page I happened to be sitting on when I created the link to embed a particular view of the map). This was really disappointing as it destroyed the whole purpose of the maps.

After much wailing, this has now been fixed, and in case I ever have the same problem (or anyone else out there has the same problem) I thought I would document the process. I figured this out thanks to helpful posts on the Google MyMaps support forum which lead me to here and here.

Firstly, I had to combine the two existing maps I had created, England and non-England, back into a single map. For those wrestling with their own MyMaps, you need to Edit the source map you want to copy from, right-click on the View In Google Earth link and copy the link location, then go into the destination map, Edit and Import.

Secondly, I had to re-order the markers on the newly combined map back in the order I wanted them in and save the new map. Random isn't such a good option going forward should I ever need to find and edit a marker!

Thirdly, Edit the new map and copy the Google Earth link location for it, then paste that into the Search Maps box up the top and click on Search Maps. What this essentially does is enable you to see a virtual dynamic copy of your original map, without paginating the markers, that automatically updates when your underlying saved MyMap is updated.

Fourthly, while you have the virtual map open (and without saving it), you can then use the usual Link options to create the link to embed the desired map view into your webpage. Should you need to create any new embedded links at a future date you can repeat the third and fourth step to access the virtual map again.

The really good news is that doing all that seems to have fixed the glitch whereby the links in most of the markers weren't opening up in the whole webpage - but now they do! This problem was quite frustrating as it meant that anyone using those links weren't actually getting to the website they wanted to visit and could only view it in a comparatively small window. It also gave the impression that the information in those studies was part of the One Place Studies index site which was the last thing I wanted - everyone working on a one place study deserves their due credit for their hard work in providing that resource!

If you haven't checked out the One Place Studies website yet, take a look and see if anyone is working on a study for any of your ancestral places. If you have your own genealogy website, how might Google MyMaps help illustrate what you are doing?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

December update

Last month I found a photograph of a WILLIS gravestone on Flickr, and the photographer Keith has given me permission to include it on the website. So there is an update to the Memorial Inscriptions section, a new page for the Willis family.

Also updated is the straw plaiting page, with mention of a cholera outbreak affecting the straw plait school in 1871.

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