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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 I still have the CDs in a drawer somewhere, now superceded by internet access, including S&N’s TheGenealogist website.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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National Burial Index 3rd Edition now available

9 Mar

The third edition of the National Burial Index (NBI) was released (seemingly without much fanfare) by the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2010.

National Burial Index

The NBI is a PC only database available on CD (see the website for system requirements). It is described as a complement to the IGI in that it does for burials what the IGI does for baptisms and marriages.

It is only an index, so don’t expect to find full details, and like any indexing project it is liable to errors, so always check the original.

The third edition contains 18.4 million entries, covering most of England and Wales. Some counties are seriously unrepresented, for example there are only 4,000 entries for Devon and more importantly for me, only 12,000 for Hampshire. I am pleased to say Sussex is now well represented. The FFHS website includes a useful breakdown of the coverage of the NBI, down to which parishes and date ranges are included.

The NBI retails at £30 for the full version and £15 for an upgrade from the second edition (if you return the first CD of the second edition). It is available through the FFHS and other genealogy suppliers. It is also listed on Amazon.co.uk although as I write this it is showing as out of stock.

Findmypast.co.uk includes records from an earlier edition of the NBI, but there is no indication whether this will be updated with the records from the new third edition.

"What on earth do you want that for?"

13 Feb

I regularly visit charity shops, usually in search of books (as a substitute for all the second-hand bookshops that have closed), but also for DVDs and computer software.

I found a real bargain today, a battered box entitled Family Tree Genealogy Suite (Version 4) produced by GSP Ltd, now part of the Avanquest Software Group.

Family Tree Genealogy Suite

Now I know what you are thinking, probably the same as my wife would "what on earth do you want that for?", after all it was published in 2003, and I already have a decent piece of genealogy software and if I didn’t there are several free options for genealogy software.

Aside from the fact it was only £3 and that was going to charity, the real reason for buying it were two CDs included in the "suite". The two CDs are the installation and data disk for UK-Info 2003 Lite.

The reason this program is so good is that it contains the names and addresses of 44 million registered electors from the UK. According to the CD it contains "data drawn from the Electoral Roll collected by Local Authorities prior to November 2001".

The key thing here is that this data is from before the changes in legislation which enabled people to have their details removed from the public version of the register. The data is available online from sites like 192.com, but for a price.

Interestingly the latest version UK-Info Pro V15 now only contains 25 million names and addresses (plus 14 million Directory Enquiry listings and 3.4 million company records). The price tag of £150 puts it well out of my reach and I would imagine most genealogists.

I’ve installed the program and tested it, everything seems to work fine. I’ve done some searching, so now all I need to do is create a source record in Family Historian and start adding some address details to my relations.

The lesson from this is to always keep an eye open for family history software, not for the software itself, but for the freebies that are included with it.

How I navigate the Ancestry.co.uk databases

8 Jan

Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings posted about his method for navigating the census databases at Ancestry.com, so I thought I would share the method I use for getting around Ancestry.co.uk quickly and easily.

Basically I use the bookmarks toolbar in the Firefox browser to create my own quick links to the various search pages at Ancestry.co.uk that I regularly use. These are just bookmarked pages, all stored in the same folder and that folder is made available on a toolbar across the top of the browser. The screenshot below will hopefully show what I mean.

Ancestry bookmarks toolbar

So to jump from one census to another (or from anywhere on the internet to an Ancestry database) all I have to do is click once on the folder in the toolbar, and then click again on the item in the list that drops down. Two clicks and I am there, or with three clicks (left-right-left) I can have it open on a new tab.

I am sure I can’t be the only one that uses this method, and I don’t know that it is any quicker or easier than any other method, but I have found it works for me.

To learn more about the bookmarks toolbar visit the Firefox Support page. I believe a similar sort of thing is available on Internet Explorer, where the bookmarks toolbar it is known as the Favorites Bar.

2010 to do list – spring clean my database

28 Dec

Between now and the new year I will be writing about some of the things I want to achieve with my family history in 2010.

I did go through my database (Family Historian) earlier this year and clear up some loose ends, but as a result of the rush to get my family tree chart printed I have messed things up again.

It is not really messed up, just that I have a lot of loose ends that need further research which I didn’t have time to do.

Wives with no maiden names: Currently there are 21 women whose maiden names I do not know. A fair few of these are my 5x great-grandmothers, so it would be really good to find them. Along the same lines I also have a husband with no first name.

Orphans: I have a number of individuals and families who are not connected to the rest of my family tree, or rather where the connection is not known. These are mostly grandchildren of one of my ancestors, but the parents of the child is not known. There are a couple of families that are almost certainly related, they come from the same village and have the same surname as my ancestors, but again their exact connection is not known.

Missing parents: I have several individuals where the identity of one of the parents is not known. In many cases this is due to illegitimacy, and the identity may never be known, but in some cases it is just because one or other of the parents died early and doesn’t appear on a census return.

Living individuals: Now would be a good time to run through my database and make sure that all my ancestors and relations that are living are flagged as such, so their data is not shared.

Sanity checks: It would also be a good time to perform some sanity checks on my data, such as: age at marriage, age at death, duplicate children of the same name, correct gender based on first name. Of course there will be anomalies in the data, but once highlighted they can be checked on an individual basis.

Birth and death dates: As if that is not enough to keep me busy for the whole of 2010, I would also like to make sure everyone in my database has a birth date (estimated if needed) and any individual that is not marked as living should have a death date (again estimated if needed).

No genealogy again!

12 Dec

Today is the second Saturday in a row where I have not really done any family history work.

Today was mainly devoted to getting my new PC up and running, and this is the first post written using my (nearly) new PC and Windows Live Writer, which must mean that everything is working properly.

There wasn’t really any problem with installing everything, I have all the CDs and licences, but what was really time-consuming was getting everything set up just the way I like it.

Family Historian is the best example, there are so many different settings and customizations that you can do, it took forever to get it back to what I am used to.

Apart from removing a couple of bits from my old PC (the CD/DVD writer and USB expansion card) it is now sitting unwanted on the floor. I’m not sure what I will do with it, I am reluctant to throw it away, but I’m not sure anyone else would get any further use from it either.

I’ve just remembered one thing I haven’t plug in and installed yet, that is my printer/scanner/copier. I am hoping not to use the printer too much, but the scanner I couldn’t live without.

Perhaps once I have that up and running I can spend a bit of time on my family tree, on second thoughts, perhaps I have spent enough time on my various computers today.

Could Texter make your data entry quicker and easier?

29 Oct

Last night as I entered the phrase “agricultural labourer” for the umpteenth time I decided I need to find a short-cut to save having to keep entering it over and over. The majority of my relations were agricultural labourers, and I don’t like using the phrase “ag lab” preferring to spell it out in full.

I turned to a little application, that I had played with briefly before, called Texter. There is nothing new or revolutionary about this program, but it is quite powerful, and I have only used it at its most basic level.

What it does is watch what you type for “hotstrings”, which are certain combinations of letters, and when you type the correct combination, it converts them into something else. A bit like using find and replace, but it happens as you go along.

In my case I set it up so that when I type the word “aglab” it replaces it with the phrase “agricultural labourer”. It is pretty simple to install and set-up. All it takes is a little bit of thought in selecting the hotstrings and a few minutes to set it up. I set up two hotstrings, “aglab” and “Aglab”, for the second one the word agricultural is capitalised.

The great thing is that it appears to work in almost any Windows program, such as Family Historian, my family history software. The best thing of all is that it is free, so if it doesn’t work you haven’t lost anything.

I have previously used it to speed up the entry of several family surnames, but there is probably no limit to what you could set it up to do, such as surnames, place names, addresses, occupations, in fact anything that you find yourself have to type repeatedly.

There are a couple of videos on the Lifehacker page, showing the basic use of Texter, plus some of the more advanced techniques.

I think this is going to save me a serious amount of typing in the future, I don’t know why I didn’t start using it sooner. Make sure you have a look and see if it could make your life easier, whether it is for family history, blogging or elsewhere.

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