Tag Archives: national archives

Some background listening for chasing criminals

4 Aug

If the recent release of the Criminal Registers 1791-1892 on Ancestry.co.uk has inspired you to start chasing after a criminal in your own family tree then you might be interested in some of the podcasts produced by The National Archives on the subjects of criminals and prisons.

These podcasts are recordings of talks given at The National Archives in Kew, and cover a varied range of subjects and historical periods (right up to only a few decades ago). Usually, but not always, the talk has some connection to the holdings of The National Archives. The show notes for each podcast contain a varying degree of background material, all have a brief description of the talk, but some also include illustrations and a transcript of the talk.

Those relevant to the subject of criminals and prisons include:

Victorian Women Prisoners by Chris Heather (published 9th October 2008)

The real Little Dorrit: Charles Dickens and the debtors’ prison by David Thomas (published 28th November 2008)

Catching Victorian and Edwardian criminals on paper by Professor Barry Godfrey and Doctor David Cox (published 8th May 2009)

Prison: five hundred years behind bars by Edward Marston (published 22nd May 2009)

If you watched last week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? with Kate Humble then you might also want to have a listen to the podcast about The Great Escape, which tells the real story behind the events that inspired the film.

Where can I get free access to the 1911 census in England and Wales?

28 Jul

UPDATE: From the 1st October 2009 free access at Manchester Archives and Local Studies and Greater Manchester County Record Office and Tyne and Wear Archives has been withdrawn as their allocation of free credits has been used up. Please check availability with the other archives before visiting.

The National Archives have announced today that in association with findmypast.com they will be providing free access to the 1911 census at seven archives and libraries across England and Wales.

The seven lucky archives and libraries listed are:

  • Birmingham Archives & Heritage
  • Devon Record Office
  • The National Library of Wales
  • Manchester Archives and Local Studies and Greater Manchester County Record Office
  • Norfolk Record Office
  • Nottinghamshire Archives
  • Tyne and Wear Archives

Researchers are advised to check with the relevant archive or library before visiting for availability. Presumably a similar system will be in place to that at The National Archives (where access to the 1911 census online is already free) which means you will only have to pay if you want to print from the website.

No mention is made of how this fits in with The National Archives proposed changes to reduce running costs by 2010.

A brief look at Your Archives from The National Archives

9 Jul

I’ve been getting distracted again, there has not really been much proper genealogy going on for a few days, but my brain has been buzzing with ideas and things I want to do, not just with my family tree but with family and local history in general.

One of the things that distracted me was the Your Archives section on The National Archives website. I did look at this many months ago after it was first announced but hadn’t really been back to see how it has taken shape.

Basically it is a user contributed add-on to the main National Archives catalogue, although a lot of the material appears to be based on The National Archives unpublished guides and material. Those familiar with wikipedia will be familiar with the layout and the concept.

The idea is certainly not unique in the family history field, for example the FamilySearch Wiki, and although The National Archives is not just about family history, a large percentage appears to be related to the subject.

There were a couple of interesting projects that caught my eye. Firstly, the Metropolitan Police Records Project which provides, amongst other things, access to digital photos of some of the documents relating to the force via Flickr. This caught my eye because my 3x great grandfather briefly served in the Metropolitan Police, although I have already established that I am unlikely to find a record of his service.

Secondly, the Historical Streets Project, which is using the census street indexes as the starting point for a massive database of properties, where users can submit details about the properties. This is one database where I could probably contribute some material, not just ancestral homes, but those in my local area.

It is a very eclectic mix of subjects, as one would expect from the National Archives, but it is a site I shall keep an eye on and see if there is something that I can contribute to it in some way.

Changes at The National Archives

6 Jul

I have been looking at the recent news out of the National Archives in the UK, and it has made quite sobering reading. This is not the news that they have discovered another copy of the Declaration of Independence in their collections (I know what it’s like, things get buried and forgotten about, however my stuff is not worth $8.14 million), but the news about proposed changes to public services at Kew.

Unfortunately I will not be able to hear about these changes first hand at one of public meetings, but there is a report from Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists on their website.

I have mixed feelings about these proposed changes, like the majority of users most of my interaction with the National Archives is via their website (it is probably about a year since I actually visited in person) and it is good to see the proposed changes are taking this change in priority into account.

Any loss of access to records would be regrettable, but I think we sometimes forget that the money to run this type of facility has to come from somewhere, and many would argue that there are better things to spend the money on than what is for most of us a hobby.

Any changes that involve a loss of employees are not to be taken lightly, especially when that loss possibly includes the loss of knowledge and expertise, and it is good to see that consultation and careful thought are going into this process.

I understand the need for these changes, and would rather see these changes implemented now, rather than run the risk of harsher cutbacks further down the road, or losing such a valuable resource altogether in the future.

It does raise worrying questions regarding the funding and viability of smaller archives throughout the country. If the National Archives is facing financial cutbacks then how long will it be before we start seeing similar or more drastic cutbacks at some of the smaller archives?

The National Archives Podcast: The Great Escape

16 May

I found time today to listen to the latest National Archives podcast today, and would recommend it to everyone. It is entitled The Great Escape: you’ve seen the film, now hear the truth, and I was captivated (no pun intended!) by the excellent presentation.

I have seen the film many times, so I have some idea of the general story, but the podcast gave me a lot more background on the prisoner of war camp and the German organisations involved, and highlighted a few of the inaccuracies in the film. It is clear that the speaker (Alan Bowgen) is a real expert on the subject and his presentation is excellent.

I wish I had been at the National Archives to see the presentation for myself because the few documents shown on the website do not do justice to what was obviously a well researched and heavily illustrated presentation.

The National Archives’ iGoogle gadget

3 Mar

The National Archives have today announced the release of an iGoogle gadget which allows you to search their website from your iGoogle home page.

To be honest I am not a great user of iGoogle, preferring the plain old uncluttered classic home page, I hardly ever use any other search engine, although I know I should be using more than one, especially for the more obscure searches we genealogist sometimes carry out.

I have given the National Archives gadget a try, and what can I say, other than it works! The only drawback I can see is that it searches the whole website rather than specific catalogues (e.g. A2A, DocumentsOnline or the main catalogue), it would have been nice to be able to specify where it searched.

So, if iGoogle is your thing then check it out: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/stories/269.htm

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