Hits: 2267

We start this quarter with a website about the history of Bristol.

The first is called The Changing Face of Bristol & Its People and can be found at www.gertlushonline.co.uk. The site contains many photographs of old Bristol, with modern shots taken from the same viewpoint, and a lot of interesting facts about the city. I did some research last year on a family surnamed Alexander, and discovered that Lord Alexander of Hillsborough opened the Co-op  shop in Fairfax Street in 1962. The site is especially good for photographs of old Bristol industries. The designer, Paul Townsend, also has nearly 4000 photographs on the Flickr website at www.flickr.com. He uses the name “Brizzle Born and bred” and you should search on “people” for that phrase.  

The Geograph website at www.geograph.org.uk/ contains an amazing selection of photographs of all parts of the British Isles. Searches by place name are easy, and the good quality modern photographs will give you a useful feel for places too far away to visit very often. The photographs are all of places, while those on Flickr are often overwhelmed by artistic views of cats, flowers, etc.

Most of us have lots of old photographs, either inherited or taken by us in years gone by. If we want to send copies by e-mail, or otherwise need to make a digital copy, there are various options available. These are usefully summarised in an article by Justin Dorton on the Kindred Konnections (ouch!) website at www.kindredkonnections.com/DigitizingOldPhotos.html. It is easy to read and understand, and has many useful, well-illustrated, hints. There is a similar article on digitising old slides, which you can find from the home page. Kindred Konnections is an American family history website, with a wide range of resources.

In my September 2006 article, I listed a website for the Hundred of Frome in Somerset. It has now changed its location, and can be found at http://www.fromeresearch.org.uk/. A lot more parish register transcripts have been added in the past eighteen months, and the site is well worth a visit.

A wider range of resources is now becoming available online from the commercial sites. Findmypast (www.findmypast.com) has recently added the Great Western Railway Shareholders’ Index. The original information is held by the Society of Genealogists, and 90% of it relates to changes in ownership on the death of a shareholder. The index is of all the people named in the transaction, and is easy to use. Cost is about 75p per record viewed if you have the pay-per-view option. Findmypast, which was known until recently as 1837online, and which agreed in 2007 to host data previously available on FamilyHistoryOnline, has itself now been taken over by Scotland Online. That is the private sector company which already operates Scotland’s People (www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/) and which has the contract to digitise the 1911 census for England and Wales.

Further evidence of the consolidation of suppliers in the family history world is the announcement that Ancestry has acquired the rights to the data previously available on CD from ArchiveCD books. ArchiveCD books was based in the Forest of Dean and was one of the early suppliers of CDs of the census and old books such as Bigland. Rod Neep, the founder of the company, has recently retired. The data was not available on Ancestry at the time of writing, and my information came from a newsletter.

If you are sometimes confused when deciphering Latin words like innupta and supultus fuit in old parish records, then a helpful article is available on the GENUKI site at www.genuki.org.uk/big/LatinNotes.html

Now for some websites with military records. If your ancestors were in the Glosters, then the Soldiers of Gloucestershire website at http://www.glosters.org.uk will be of great use in your research. It is part of the regimental museum, and has a database of 40,000 soldiers who served in the First World War, as well as information on museum activities, exhibitions and the museum shop. On the message board, I found a link to a list of those recorded in the roll of honour at the church of St Michael and all Angels in Bedminster, which can be found at http://stmichael.instabook.com/rollhon.htm. For many of those listed, there are images of the gravestone in the war cemetery. 

Another website for those with armed forces interests is The International Armed Forces Memorial at www.wargraves.org.uk/.[N.B. unfortunately this web site has been 'down' since the end of February '08 - webmaster 13/03].  This brings together information from a number of sources, including then Commonwealth War Graves Commission and contributions from members of the public. It can help you identify medals and medal ribbons, and includes images of memorials around the world. The site has records from the First and Second World Wars. For a more personal account of life in the army during the First World War, go to http://wwar1.blogspot.com. It contains letters written by Henry Lamin, and they are posted daily, ninety years after they were written. 

Moving from the soldiery to the aristocracy, I recently came across The Peerage (www.thepeerage.com) which collects together information about Royalty and other noble families, much of it gathered from Burke’s Peerage. Despite its title, it lists many with titled links but less exalted origins, and is useful for tracing wealthy families, particularly during the late nineteenth and twentieth century, when the usual records may be lacking. The site has been created from a family history database programme, and it is easy to follow the links between individuals. 

Finally, you may remember that the LDS church has begun a new programme of digitising and transcribing original records, using volunteers from around the world. After failing for some time to find the website with details of the project, I have now located it at www.familysearchindexing.org/en/index.jsp. Most of the project appears to be currently focussed on the United States and Mexico, but some Irish records of births, marriages and deaths will be included shortly. 

Bob Lawrence