Tag Archives: transcription

My Family History Week: Sunday 17th June 2012

17 Jun

Not a great deal happened to my family tree this week, a fair bit of planning and plotting and some transcribing, but not a lot of actual updating.

Adding missing birth details

I spent a bit of time playing with my database and creating a list of those people without either a birth or baptism date. Now I have a list of 379 individuals and have started work on adding missing birth details.

So far I have only updated one individual, not much I know, but it is a start. Of course it doesn’t help that it is very hard for me to work on just one event, the birth event, because this inevitably leads to something else.

The Diary of Percy Ebenezer Trower

I made good progress on the diary of my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower. I have transcribed one page a night except for Friday and Saturday, when I was too busy. It has proved quite an interesting experience and so far has been a lot easier than I expected.

So far there hasn’t really been much family history information apart from Percy’s day-to-day activities, there is no way that I am going to be able record every aspect of his daily life in his entry in my family history software.

I already have the diary set up as a source, but I may need to create a custom attribute that records when someone gets a mention in the diary that isn’t directly related to normal events like births, marriages and deaths.

The week ahead …

More of the same this week, expect that I want to try to get some more birth dates added. I realise that I am not going be able to transcribe Percy’s diary every night, but I think I should be able to manage five pages a week, which will be better than nothing.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Distracted by Percy the Prawn

11 Jun

Last night I took the plunge and started transcribing the diary of my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower.

I have been in this position before and have never managed to progress beyond the first couple of pages , hopefully this time I can keep the momentum going.

I am going to try to do a page a night. I realise that at that rate it is going to take almost two years to complete, but I have precious little spare time as it is without devoting several hours a day to reading difficult handwriting. Small chunks are definitely the way forward.

I have started working in just a basic text editor for now, but I will be looking for something a bit more advanced before I get too far down the road because I want to be able to do more with the text than just having it sitting as a plain text file on my hard drive.

It is quite obvious to me that I will need to add some footnotes as I go along, mainly for my own benefit, to explain some of the people, places and events mentioned.

Last night’s page included a reference to the one of A. J. Alan’s wireless stories and of course I had to stop to find out who A. J. Alan was and even listened to a couple of his stories. These two stories were quite light-hearted (and where I found Percy the Prawn) but some of his other material was somewhat darker.

Percy didn’t say whether he liked the story he listened to or not, but I certainly enjoyed them and they had made me contemplate getting hold of some more of his work. At this rate it is going take a lot longer than two years to complete.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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My Family History Fortnight: Sunday 10th June 2012

10 Jun

There is not a lot of family history activity to report for the last two weeks. The fact that I have left it for two weeks shows just how family history free my time has been. There was a good excuse last for last week’s inactivity, but the week before was really just down to me being lazy.

Holidays galore

I had hoped that the long bank holiday weekend last weekend would provide some time for me to do some work, but there was so much else going on that I never really got down to any research.

On top of that the end of this week has seen my wife and I away for another long weekend, primarily for me to indulge my passion for trains, but also as an excuse to get away for a few days.

Percy Ebenezer Trower

Much of my recent blogging has centred around my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer Trower. Although this wasn’t really a conscious decision on my part, it probably stems from the fact that in the absence of any new research I have been “forced” to go back and look at information I already have.

In particular I keep returning to the fact that I really ought to transcribe his diary. Whilst it is useful to be able to look up particular dates and events it is not possible to search the entire volume without having an idea of the date. I fear there is so much more of interest that could be uncovered if only it was transcribed and possibly indexed, or at least searchable.

The sheer scale of the task and Percy’s handwriting has put me off up to now, but I feel now might be a good time to start.

Adding birth and death details

The other thing that I have looked at is the lack of birth and death details for many of the people in my family tree.

I want to be able to do a bit more querying of my database, so that I can produce lists of people to search for things like First World War service and Probate Index entries.

For this I really need to establish the starting and ending points for the people in the database. This means I need a birth/baptism and burial/death record for each individual.

This is not something that is going to happen quickly, some should be quite easy to work out, but some of the deaths could be difficult to pin down with any confidence without getting a death certificate, which is nothing something I really can afford to do.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Finding Mary MITCHELL in the 1861 census: a lesson learned

3 Mar

I have previously struggled to find my 4x great-grandmother Mary MITCHELL (née SMITH) in the 1861 census. I didn’t really expect to find anything unusual in the entry, but with a surname like SMITH you need to check every record just in case there are any clues to help me find her parents.

I had found Mary in every census from 1841 to 1891 (she died in Q3 1891) except 1861 and was fairly certain that her son William would be living with her. I also knew from other census returns that she was born around 1808 in Cuckfield, Sussex and that she would be a widow in 1861.

I had previously had no luck with Ancestry.co.uk and Findmypast.co.uk but having seen TheGenealogist.co.uk presentation at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 last weekend and having been impressed by their search facilities I decided it would be a good idea to try searching their indexes.

I had hoped to try out their Family Forename Search, but with the only two names being William and Mary I didn’t fancy my chances (and I wasn’t even sure that William would be with his mother) of finding them easily. A straight-forward search didn’t bring up any entries for Mary MITCHELL, but I did have more luck with William. William MITCHELL was living with his mother and his brother Alfred in Slaugham, Sussex.

Although I had found the entry and could have just left it at that, I wanted to learn why I had struggled to find the family. I felt sure there were valuable lessons to be learned for the future.

Of course I already knew that transcriptions and indexes are not always perfect but in my experience they are usually good enough to find the person you are looking for with a bit of ingenuity and persistence.

In this case one look at the census image was enough to identify the problem, in fairness to the Ancestry and Findmypast transcribers the M at the beginning of the surname does look like a lot like a W to me. Sure enough this is how they had it indexed.

So it looks like TheGenealogist has the best transcription, but not quite. They got the hard bit right (her surname) but got Mary’s first name completely wrong!

Also I am not sure that the address is correct, there is nothing to suggest that the name “Old Pack Farm” should have been carried on to subsequent entries. Then looking at Ancestry’s results it appears that William was born in Balmaclellan, Sussex (I don’t think so).

I wondered if anyone had transcribed the record correctly and remembered that FreeCEN had completed transcribing the 1861 census for Sussex, I wondered what their transcribers had made of it?

Turns out they knew exactly what they were doing, even down to the note on the birth place of William. I was surprised, not that the FreeCEN transcribers got it right, but that they were the only ones that got it right. Of course they don’t have the images for free so I would still have needed to check against one of the other websites.

The lesson for me is that paid for results are not always better than free results (and of course that an M can sometimes look like a W). I have been using FreeBMD for years but totally neglecting FreeCEN (and FreeREG for that matter).

I need another to-do list

17 Feb

One of the outcomes of my visit to two archives last week was that I needed to tweak my to-do list a little bit, but more than that I decided to answer the question that I posed a few weeks ago.

I have decided to tackle my concern with the old IGI citations in two ways. My original intention had always been to replace these entries once I had viewed the original record, so I will bring that forward and view as many of the original records as I can. For any that I can’t access (those records physically further away) I will update the source to reflect the new FamilySearch website.

Whilst I am at it, it occurred to me that there are several other indexes and transcriptions that I have used in a similar manner as the IGI, in that they would do until I could view the original records and verify them. These are mostly from the wonderful indexes and transcriptions produced by the Sussex Family History Group and the Parish Register Transcription Society and shouldn’t be a problem to verify.

The problem has been that I haven’t really worried about doing it until now. In addition to my normal to-do list I now need to create a second list, the priorty is not so high (it is after all just going back over old ground) but every time I visit an archive I should be able to cross a few more off the list. Given that I have dates and places for all these records it should be very easy to find them.

Going forward I need to remember to keep adding new entries to this second list as and when I add a new citation for one of these indexes to my family tree.

NEWS: 1911 Census summary books on Ancestry.co.uk

9 Dec

You never know what you are going to find when you go poking about the Ancestry.co.uk, especially their Genealogy Databases Posted or Updated Recently page. Last night at the top of the list were entries for the 1911 Census summary books (Channel Islands, Isle of Man, England and Wales). Hopefully this marks the beginning of the promised release of the 1911 census on Ancestry.co.uk and The Genealogist.

I expect we will hear more about them in the next few days when they are officially announced. From what I have seen though they are nice crisp colour images of the pages, looking very similar to the Findmypast ones.

You might wonder why this is such good news, after all Findmypast.co.uk have had the images (both the household schedules and summary books) available for some time. For starters you never can have enough different indexes, just in case one of them is wrong, but more importantly (to me anyway) Ancestry.co.uk have made the summary books searchable for the first time (I think?).

Being able to search the summary books for the head of household has helped locate one of my “missing” families. Within about 10 minutes I had been able to locate the ANSCOMBE family in Cuckfield, Sussex, something which I had failed to do on using Findmypast alone, despite many previous attempts.

It wasn’t a straight-forward process, on Ancestry I searched for the surname ANSCOMBE in Cuckfield and found several likely households. After getting the schedule number from the summary book image and finding their neighbours on Findmypast, I was able to work out what the census reference should be for their household.

Searching on Findmypast using the census reference brought up a transcription without my ANSCOMBEs anywhere to be seen. I viewed the image and it all became clear, the cause of my inability to find them revealed.

The household schedule began with three individuals (a tutor and presumably two pupils), all described as boarders. Beneath them was a gap of two lines and then the six members of the ANSCOMBE family I had been looking for. For some reason they had not been indexed, just those first three unrelated individuals, no wonder I couldn’t find them.

I now need to find out how to report them missing to Findmypast, but this just goes to show the value of looking in multiple indexes. I am sure that once the household schedules are available on Ancestry that there will be similar examples of missing individuals, it is inevitable with any index of this size that there will be errors.

Sometimes all that is need is a little bit of teamwork (thank you Ancestry and Findmypast) and some creative thinking to get around a problem.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 21)

23 May

I made good progress on sorting out my hard drive this week, the TROWER surname folder is as good as done, and I got sidetracked and sorted through the MITCHELL surname folder as well.

Virtually all my research from the West Sussex Record Office three weeks ago has been transcribed, I still have one will to transcribe (Thomas PIERCEY) and I need to scan both of the copies of the wills, just in case I need to refer to them again.

There was no new research this, and I haven’t done any of the things I needed to do to restart my GEERING research, but I am confident that I will be back on track with that this week.

As well as the PIERCEY wills that I have to scan, I have quite a lot of other scanning to do, lots of postcards that need doing (some of which you will see in the coming weeks) and a few other bits and pieces. I will be pleased if I can get that completed this week.

  • Finish sorting out the TROWER folder and files.
  • Transcribe the will of Thomas PIERCEY.
  • Contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain about the GEERINGs to see if they have any information.
  • Book a seat at the East Sussex Record Office and order the documents I need to view for my GEERING research.
  • Scan postcards and other documents.
  • Start working on sorting out the GEERING folder.
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