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Final chance to have your say on plans for The Keep

24 May

This week is the last chance to have your say on the plans for The Keep, the new archives centre for Brighton and East Sussex.

The public consultation period runs until this Friday the 28th May 2010, and there is a public exhibition being held at the Jubilee Library, Brighton, East Sussex on Wednesday 26th May 2010.

Further details, including how to make you opinions known, can be found on the East Sussex County Council website.

Which of my ancestors did I get my cynicism from?

20 May

You will no doubt already read about the partnership between the British Library and brightsolid to digitise their newspaper collection, so I am not going to bore you with the details again.

Obviously this is good news and a step in the right direction especially as the British Library seem to have had an aversion to sharing digital images with anyone other than academic libraries. However my cynical side needs to see some more details before I can get excited about it.

Are they going to digitise the newspapers I want? The mention that they “will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911” worries me. Perhaps it is very selfish of me but what if my ancestors didn’t come from those specific geographic areas.

What is it going to cost me to view these images? Will I be able to afford to browse a whole newspaper? Am I only going to be able to view a specific page brought up as search result?

Also consider the timescale. The headline figure of 40 million pages is due to be delivered over ten years, with a minimum of 4 million pages in the first two years. So please don’t hold your breath, it could be a long wait.

Please don’t get me wrong, it is good news, but I won’t be getting excited about it until I see what the results are like, how good the index is, how they are delivered and how much it costs. That’s enough for now, my glass is half empty,  I must go and fill it up!

Welcome back National Archives, I’ve missed you

14 May

Politically it has been an interesting couple of weeks in the United Kingdom, but now a new government has been formed and things are starting to settle down The National Archives have started talking to us again.

Once the election had been announced The National Archives were obliged to restrict what they said, because they are a government department. Now the new government has been formed, normal service has been resumed.

One of their first announcements was about the appointment of Kenneth Clarke QC MP as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, effectively putting him in charge of The National Archives.

The next few years are going to be difficult financially, and I am sure we haven’t seen the last of the cost cutting already seen at The National Archives in recent months (e.g. closing on Mondays).

I am sure over the next few months (even years) there are going to have to be some unpopular decisions made that will affect us as family historians. However, like the two political parties now working together in coalition, we are going to have to make some compromises.

In the meantime, it is good to have The National Archives back talking to us, it has really been rather quiet without them.

Public consultation begins for The Keep

26 Apr

At last there is some sign of progress on the plans for The Keep, the new archive centre for East Sussex. The Keep is a joint project between East Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and the University of Sussex.

The East Sussex County Council website now includes much more detail on the project than have previously been available. This includes maps, site plans, floor plans and artists impressions of the new centre, as well as a proposed timeline for the project.

A period of public consultation will take place between the 26th April and 28th May 2010. A feature of this will be three public exhibitions at local libraries, Lewes Library (12th May), Eastbourne Library (13th May) and the Jubilee Library in Brighton (26th May).

Everyone is invited to take part in the consultation, and there is a survey on the website to complete or opinions can be expressed via traditional methods, contact details can all be found on the website.

I will be having a closer look at the proposal in the coming weeks, but at first glance there appears to be important factor missing from the plans. There is no mention of how the whole project is going to be paid for. I am sure I am not the only one who would welcome some clarification on where the money is coming from.

The ancestry of the party leaders in the media

23 Apr

Those of you outside of the UK may not have noticed, but if you live in the UK you cannot have failed to notice the fact that election fever has gripped the media (maybe not the entire country yet, just the media) who won’t let us forget that there is a General Election on the 6th May.

As well as borrowing the idea of a leadership debate from the USA, we also seem to have acquired an interest in the ancestry of the three main candidates. I remember seeing many mentions of the ancestry of Barack Obama during his campaign and election. His family even has it’s own page on Wikipedia.

Attention has now turned to the ancestors of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. I mentioned yesterday that there was an article about the ancestors of the three candidates in the first edition of the new Your Family History magazine.

The May 2010 edition of Family History Monthly has an article on the ancestry of David Cameron, and I am sure I have seen a similar treatment of Gordon Brown’s ancestors in another magazine, but don’t remember seeing Nick Clegg receiving the same treatment, after all no-one had heard of him until last week!

Findmypast.co.uk have researched the ancestors of the three leaders (illustrated with some census images), highlighting some of the similarities and pointing out some of the interesting characters in their family trees.

One of these characters was Baroness Moura Budberg (Nick Clegg’s 2x great aunt) who also gets a mention on the Time Archive Blog today, with a wonderful quote from her obituary, "she could drink any sailor under the table without batting an eyelid."

Closure of Carlisle Record Office

5 Apr

The bad news is that Carlisle Record Office will be closing on the 29th April 2010. The good news is that it will be re-opening in January 2011 (if all goes according to plan) in a new building.

When I read the news I was a bit annoyed, not by the closure, these things happen and it is surely for the best in the long run.

No, I was annoyed at myself. I have been saying for months that I was going to go to the Carlisle Record Office and pursue my KINGHORN ancestors. Now I have just under four weeks to make it happen or I will have to wait until next year.

So, I have to make a very quick decision and if I decide to go I will need to do a lot of preparation and research. I am not even sure what I expect to find there. I don’t even believe that Thomas KINGHORN came from Carlisle (I think he was originally from London, but that is another story) and I am not even sure that he spent much time in Carlisle.

There are a few parish register entries that I need to check, but that could be done at one of the other libraries that will be providing access to some of the resources. What I am really interested in is finding records of taxes and rates, that might tell me when Thomas was actually in Carlisle.

So as hard as it may be for me, I am going to have to make a decision, either to visit Carlisle or to put this particular part of my research on hold for the rest of the year.

1910 Land Valuation Survey available for keying in the Ancestry World Archives Project

26 Mar

Ancestry.co.uk have announced that part of the 1910 Land Valuation Survey is now available for keying in the Ancestry World Archives Project. The 1910 Land Valuation Survey is a massive collection, which is of interest to local and house historians as well as genealogists.

Before you get too excited, the records currently available for indexing (known as the Domesday Books) are just a small part of the complete survey. Those currently being indexed cover “land in the City of London and Paddington”. Other Domesday Books, if they have survived, are available at local record offices.

You can find out more about the survey on The National Archives website where they have a research guide which covers the subject. The most important part of the survey are the field books (in IR58) which contain a wealth of details on the land and property involved, but usually very little information about the people involved. According the research guide:

The amount of information entered in the Field Books varies considerably, but usually includes the names of owner and occupier; the owner’s interest (freehold, copyhold, etc.); details of tenancy (term and rent); and the area covered by the property. Other details recorded may include the date of erection of buildings, number of rooms, state of repair, liability for rates, insurance and repairs, date(s) of previous sale(s) and, sometimes, a sketch-plan of the property

It can take some work in finding the correct field book (using maps) but it is usually well worth the effort. The indexing of the Domesday Books (IR91) will help make access easier for those areas covered.

I can only hope that this is the start of a much larger project to digitise the entire survey including the field books and maps.

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