Tag Archives: archive

See the latest progress on The Keep

19 May

The Keep is the new historical resource centre for East Sussex and Brighton & Hove which is currently under construction in Falmer, East Sussex.

The construction seems to be progressing at a rapid pace and you can see the latest status of the development on a dedicated photostream on flickr.

Admitedly it doesn’t look much like a record office at the moment, that is not surprising as there is still another year to go before it opens for business, but it is great to see progress being made.

I like that the building work is being recorded (and being made available) so that we can watch this building site transform into an archive before our eyes.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Network Rail’s Virtual Archive

6 Mar

If like me you have a fondness for both railways and archives then you might be interested in Network Rail’s Virtual Archive, which is a collection of documents (mostly plans and drawings) from the organisation’s archive.

The Network Rail Archive is not open to the public because they are “fully engaged in managing information to support the activities of the operational railway“. This is perhaps the most important thing to remember here, these may be historic documents but many of them are also engineering drawings for bridges and stations that are still in use today.

The documents are presented as a series of articles, along with historical background on the subject, such as a timeline or links to information on the railway company or engineer responsible.

This is a wonderful collection of documents, but there is probably little chance that the average family historian will find any information about their ancestors in the archive.

However most of these bridges, stations and tunnels were built by armies of labourers, if your ancestor was one of these labourers then the documents in the archive might give you a chance to see what it was they were working on.

The only drawback so far is the lack of documents from my neck of the woods. I would love to see some plans for Balcombe Viaduct on the Lonodn to Brighton mainline or details of some Sussex railway stations like Brighton or Bognor Regis.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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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.

A visit to the Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone, Kent

10 Apr

Today I went to the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone, Kent. It was my first visit there and the first time I have actually been to a Kent archive or record office, my Kent research previously being confined to online searching or the London Family History Centre.

There were three goals for today’s trip:

  1. See how easy it is to get to the Centre for Kentish Studies and find out where it is, what it is like and how it works.
  2. Try and find some details for John GASSON my 5x great-grandfather and his parents and siblings, possibly in the parish of Brasted, Kent.
  3. Locate the marriage of my 4x great-grandparents Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER, and the burial of Thomas between 1844 and 1851.

It wasn’t what you could call a successful day. I achieved only one of the three goals (actually getting there) and as opposed to most research trips where on a good day I will be able to add to my tree, on a bad day I would come away empty handed. Today, I came away with the realisation that I am probably going to have to unpick part of my family tree (more about that at another time).

On the positive side, it was a nice journey, the cheapest train route (avoiding London) is also the quickest (just under two hours), but it involves three different trains, Horsham to Redhill, Redhill to Tonbridge and Tonbridge to Maidstone Barracks. I can see that it is not an ideal way of getting there, because there are far too many opportunities for things to go wrong, with a long wait between trains.

Today the sun was shining and the trains reasonably quiet and running on time so there was no problem, in fact it was one of the best train journeys I have been on for months. I don’t think I have ever been to Maidstone before, and the train ride from Tonbridge to Maidstone is quite idyllic, following the River Medway for a large part of the route.

The Centre for Kentish Studies is ideally situated for the train station, better for Maidstone East station, but only a short walk (about five minutes for me) from Maidstone Barracks station alongside the railway and over the river.

Finding the entrance to the Centre proved slightly tricky, there didn’t appear to be any signs to the Centre itself, and the entrance to County Hall (where the Centre is housed) wasn’t obvious, but I soon found it to the right-hand side of the rather impressive building shown below.

The Centre was quite quiet, perhaps everybody else was outside enjoying the sunshine. It is not open every weekend, only the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, and even then only up to 1pm (make sure you check opening times).

The facilities were pretty much what you would expect from an archive. It is quite small, so booking a seat is probably a good idea. The microfilm room is well equipped and well organised, that was where I spent most of my time, searching parish registers.

I know I will be back there again, I have lots more Kent research to do, but in terms of practicalities, although it will cost me more (no one ever said family history was a cheap hobby obsession), it is probably better for me to go on a weekday when I can spend longer there.

Weekly genealogy preview (for week 38)

13 Sep

Last week was quite relaxed, I didn’t get much work done but I did spend quite a while thinking about which direction my research is heading in the next few months. There are a couple of things I definitely want to get done this week, and three or four others that I would like to complete.

  • I need to get my organising finished this week, it is almost there so I should manage it. I am finding that I am missing sitting down to some serious research rather than the quick adding bits here and there as I go through my files, so I am aiming to get all my paper files sorted this week.
  • It has been a while since I went to an archive, so next weekend I want to make a visit. I’m not sure which one, the West Sussex Record Office looks favourite at the moment, but maybe the London Family History Centre (not strictly an archive I know but close enough), the Hampshire Record Office or the Surrey History Centre. So I need to decide which one and put together a research plan.

Those are the two most important ones, but if I get time (that if should really be in bold and capitals) I also have the following I would like to do:

  • I still need to finish updating the appearance of my blog, tidy up the sidebar and update my blogroll.
  • I have a number of blog posts I want to write, and if I am not careful they are going to fall by the wayside and won’t be timely anymore, so not worth doing.
  • I still need to find a database to record my postcards, something that will deal with several different collections and handle the images and descriptions all in one package. My biggest worry is that I will enter all my data into one program and find that I am stuck with that program forever, so I may try and just use Microsoft Access.
  • Having had a look at prezi.com last week (probably too much effort to set up each family), I am going to investigate using TiddlyWiki for presenting aspects of my family history. I particularly like the fact that all you need is a web browser to run it, and that it doesn’t need to be online (but could be).

Reviewing my data backup strategy

2 Aug

Yesterday’s data backup reminder over at GeneaBloggers got me thinking about my backup strategy. I would like to consider myself pretty well covered, but it never hurts to have a look and make sure everything is working as it should be.

I have two backups of my genealogy (and other important files including this blog). Every evening all my genealogy is copied over to an external hard drive, then every couple of weeks I do another complete backup to a memory stick. This memory stick lives on my key ring with the house keys, so it goes with me everywhere and would be one of the few things I would try and grab as I left the building in an emergency. I use the freeware version of SyncBack because I find it is just advanced enough to meet my needs, but not too complicated that it takes forever to learn how to set it up.

Thinking about my backup strategy I identified four issues which could cause a problem if the worst did happen:

  1. No permanent off-site backup
  2. No checking of the actual backup contents
  3. No strategy for the backup of my paper files
  4. No consideration of how I would restore the backup

1. No permanent off-site backup – although my memory stick and keys are hopefully going to be with me in an emergency there is a chance I might not have them. I could use an online backup service, but from past experience they take too long to backup and use too many system resources in the process. The obvious solution would be another memory stick permanently kept off-site (either at work or with my parents). In fact I would probably need two, so I could swap it without having to bring it back on-site.

2. No checking of the actual backup contents – the problem here is that I need to be certain that everything is being backed up that I need to be. I need to check every so often (weekly?) that all the folders containing my family history files are being backed up, even the new ones I have only just added.

3. No strategy for the backup of my paper files – this is a problem in many ways, and I have been thinking about this recently, and the fact that I have too many papers and folders. Most of what I have could be easily replicated, the only real issue would be birth, marriage and death certificates which I have paid for, my postcards and any other original material. Ideally I would like have digital copies of everything, so I think that the next step is to start scanning documents and whilst I am at it, throw out anything that I don’t consider to be an original document, such as reports from Family Historian and prints of census images. One of my goals for the next few months is to make my family history virtually paperless.

4. No consideration of how I would restore the backup – fortunately this is not likely to be a problem, the backups I carry out are just straight copies of the files and folder structure, not compressed or zipped in any way. So all I would need to do is just cut and paste them back onto a new hard drive.

I feel much happier now, I will get a couple more memory sticks and start a weekly (probably) off-site backup routine and before I carry out that weekly backup I will make sure all my family history folders are being backed up. The biggest challenge however will be the paper, hopefully over the next few weeks I can weed out the original documents from the “rubbish” and start scanning and re-organising my files.

If there is anything I have missed let me know? or if you think I am being overly paranoid let me know? Either way it will help put my mind at rest!

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