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The S&N Story – twenty years of genealogy supplies

18 Mar

As well as providing news of their latest offerings and Who Do You Think You Are? Live, the latest S&N Genealogy email newsletter provides a link to an interesting article marking their 20th anniversary.

Twenty years ago family history was very different to what it is today. The idea of genealogy data being available anywhere other than archives was almost unthinkable. As we know that has all changed and one of the companies that helped make those changes was S&N Genealogy.

It is fascinating to read how the business has grown and evolved, often leading the way in a world that was becoming increasingly digital and internet orientated.

I remember those early days (although not the full twenty years ago) when only the 1881 census (in the form of a transcript from Familysearch) and 1901 census (after it’s initial teething troubles) were available digitally, so to fill in the gap I ordered the 1891 Sussex Census CD set from S&N.

This served me well until the images became available online, indexed as well. I still have the CDs in a drawer somewhere, now superceded by internet access, including S&N’s TheGenealogist website.

Congratulations S&N on your 20th anniversary, it has been an interesting 20 years. I look forward to the next couple of decades.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Henfield, Sussex – parish register transcriptions released

19 Feb

Every once in a while it feels like a particular genealogical resource has been created just for my benefit, such is the case with one of the latest releases from The Parish Register Transcription Society.

I have been eagerly awaiting the latest parish register transcription CD since it was announced last year, because it covers the parish of Henfield, Sussex which has been home to my Trower ancestors for a couple of hundred years.

The transcriptions cover the following registers for the following years:

Baptisms 1596 – 1897
Banns 1653 – 1656, 1687 – 1698, 1756 – 1812 & 1823 – 1901
Marriages 1595 – 1894
Burials 1595 – 1900

Naturally I have consulted the Henfield parish registers dozens of time, usually on microfilm or microfiche at the West Sussex Record Office, but to have this transcript available at home is going to be a great boost to my research.

Although I have probably extracted every Trower in the registers, this transcription will become particularly handy when it comes to tracing descendants of my ancestors as a result of the marriages of the women of the family. Each new family surname requires another visit to the parish registers.

This collection of transcriptions is available to buy on CD through their website and others (I ordered my copy from the Sussex Family History Group) or it can be searched online through their pay-per-view Frontis website.

For those with Sussex ancestors the PRTS are currently working on the following parishes: Cuckfield, Pagham, Slinfold and Coldwaltham.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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NEWS: The world’s first genealogy stamps

21 Feb

It seems incredible that until now there hasn’t been a set of stamps dedicated to genealogy, but Isle of Man Stamps & Coins have put that right with the issue of a set of eight genealogy themed stamps on the 18th February 2011.

The eight stamps are a colourful set of stamps featuring a mixture of historic and modern images based on key aspects of genealogy featuring example from the Isle of Man, the border of the stamps bear the most common surnames occurring in the Isle of Man 1891 census.

The eight themes on the stamps are:

  • Baptisms
  • School Days
  • Working Life
  • Weddings
  • Family Album
  • Emigration
  • Memorials
  • Family Tree

The stamps were created in association with the Isle of Man Family History Society and Manx National Heritage and also celebrate the centenary of the Society of Genealogists.

The good news for UK genealogists (or those visiting) is that IOM Stamps & Coins will be at the Manx National Heritage stand at Who Do You Think You Are? Live next weekend (stand 903). They should have sets of the stamps for sale at the stand and although I am not really a stamp collector I think I might make an exception for these and pick up set.

As well as learning about Isle of Man research you can also enter a free draw at the stand to win a VIP research trip to the Isle of Man (it is a shame I don’t have any relatives on the Isle of Man to research).

If you can’t make it to Who Do You Think You Are? Live you can also order the stamps online through the Isle of Man Post Office Website.

Whereabouts Wednesday: The Ordnance Survey Explorer Map

15 Dec

Whether it is for family history research or for finding my way around whilst out walking you will seldom find me without an Ordnance Survey Explorer map close at hand. I find these maps are so versatile and useful that for me they are a vital piece of kit.

The picture on the left is of my well used Explorer 123 – South Downs Way (Newhaven to Eastbourne) dating from 1996, with a nice picture of the Seven Sister and the coast guard cottages at Seaford Head adorning the cover.

A Brief History of the Explorer Map

On the Ordnance Survey Blog you can find two posts describing the origins of the Explorer map and the various incarnations over the years:

The history of the iconic OS Explorer Map

The history of the iconic OS Explorer Map – part 2

If you want to see some of the different map covers over the years then I would recommend taking a look here (but be warned it is only for the real map addict).

A Question of Scale

Of course their usefulness is down to their scale and the level of detail that they show. The scale of an Explorer map is 1: 25 000 which is the equivalent of 2½ inches to 1 mile (or 4cm to 1km if you prefer). All of England, Scotland and Wales is covered by the 403 maps in the series.

As with any map there has to be a compromise between the level of detail featured and the size of the map. Large scale maps (perhaps better described as plans) show an awful lot of detail but the size of the map needed to cover a few miles on the ground makes them impractical for slipping into a rucksack or opening out on a desk without several pairs of hands.

Exploring the Explorer

The level of detail on an Explorer map is just right, you can cover quite a large area on one map, but with a decent amount of detail. All those little symbols on the map are described on the Ordnance Survey website as well as on the edges of the maps themselves.

Along with showing all the important things like paths and roads, churches and schools and contour lines, some of the most important things for me are that it shows:

  1. Field boundaries and ditches.
  2. Parish and other administrative boundaries.
  3. Paths, tracks and roads (whether public rights of way or not).

Not only does it show a lot of detail but a lot of those features are named, a lot of the larger rural properties (houses and farms) are named, as are some parcels of woodland, a lot of roads are named or numbered also most hills are also identified.

I could go on but probably the best way is to take a look at the map yourself.

Where can you find them online?

Two of my favourite places to find Explorer maps online are:

Ordnance Survey Get-a-map – Zoom in to the maximum level to see the scale at 1:25 000, the only drawback is that the area of map available to view at any one time is only about 1¼ miles (2km). Click on the round purple button to launch the map viewer.

Bing Maps – To view a much larger area you can use Bing Maps, there are several different styles that you can use to view the maps including a couple of different Ordnance Survey scales, although a lot of the zoom levels are just enlargements of the same underlying data.

There are of course many places online and offline to buy copies of the paper maps, and if like me you often find the place you are interested in is split over two paper maps then check out the OS Select service, which allows you to have a map printed to your requirements, centred on the location you want (except Channel Islands and Isle of Man).

Do you have a netbook? If so, what do you use it for?

28 Jul

I have been considering getting a netbook for quite a while now, and finally at the end of this month I will have the money to do so. Now is the moment I have been dreading, decision time.

I think it will be a great asset, it will be a useful tool for my family history research (and blogging) but the problem is that it is not essential for what I do. Sure it will probably make my life easier, but do I really need it?

There are lots of things I could use it for, the main one is probably for note taking at archives or libraries, but several other uses have come to mind as I wrestle with whether to buy or not.

  • I would like to use it as a temporary digital photo album. In connection with my external hard drive I could use it to share my digital photos, and especially my family history photos, where I can also use it to capture memories and additional information.
  • I love the idea of being able to blog and check email while I am away from home, perhaps even when I am out walking.
  • I would love to have access to the internet when I am out and about, so I can check train times, ending eBay auctions etc.
  • I want to have something else to do on the bus going to and from work. Just think how much work I could get done in that half hour each way.
  • With a small scanner I can take it with me when visiting family members as a portable scanning unit for photos and documents.
  • Of course I would have my family history loaded on there so I can show everyone and anyone my family tree at the drop of a hat.

But still at the back of my mind is the nagging fact that I don’t actually need it, it is more of a convenience rather than a necessity.

So if you have a netbook please let me know in the comments what you use it for? What interesting ways have you found to use it in your research? I need all the help I can get to convince myself that I should have one.

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