Posted by: Christine | April 1, 2012

Real Genealogy

Last week the website of RugbyFHG won Second Place Small Societies in the FFHS Best Website Award. It was a lucky coincidence that I happened to be there to receive the award, as we had been missed off the short list, announced at the General Meeting last September. I received the certificate from Nick Barratt and on my return decided to follow Nick on Twitter.

Receiving my Web Award Certificate from Nick Barratt

Yesterday he tweeted a link to his Blog  which I read. He writes about attending a Family History Show and realising how much planning had been done beforehand and how hard they were working that day. This was Real Genealogy. This got me thinking – am I a Real Genealogist? I looked back over the last couple of weeks and reviewed the time (and money) I had spent on Genealogy.

The day before the FFHS meeting, I had spent all day at the Hobbycrafts Exhibition at the NEC near Birmingham. Planning for this had started several months earlier at a meeting with other Family History Societies as to who would man the FFHS stand at this event each day. After that volunteers had to be found to attend “our” day, display boards assembled (or recycled) and transport arranged. We managed to get tickets to park free, but two of our members had to pay for their petrol to travel from Rugby to the NEC. Five of us spent all or part of the day talking to people and handing out leaflets. We gave advice to people on how to start Family History research or helped with any problems they had. Other people were told about the benefits of joining a FH society – one person had done a lot of research but didn’t even know such a thing as a FH society existed!

Stand all set up and waiting for the visitors

The next day I was down at Rugby station at 7.30am to catch the train to London. I managed to get in a couple of hours research at the British Library before arriving at Wesley’s Chapel for some lunch before the meeting. Then sat through the FFHS AGM and GM. A lot of talk about what the Federation has been doing or plans to do. An opportunity for society representatives to make their points and the awards for Best Website and Best Magazine were presented. See the other winners here . The room got hotter and hotter! Slow train home, but at least I had some spare time to catch up on some reading. (Total cost, including lunch £34.)

Next day was Sunday – a day of rest? No, I had to make sure that a computer file and images were in the right place for the next day when two more of our volunteers would be checking the Parish Register transcription, which the group is working on.

A few months ago we finished transcribing the PR of Newbold on Avon. It is my job to turn the information into a CD to be sold to the public. A simple job of tidying up the files, producing an index, turning it all into PDF and burning to CDs (as well as designing the cover!). The first phase was going well and I started thinking “I might get this out before Easter”. Then I discovered that one register had not been transcribed. I am in charge of organising the work, so it was my fault it had been missed. My only excuse is that it duplicated parts of other registers – but it had to be done, so I set out to do it myself. Any spare moment has been spent transcribing these missing pages. I finished last Friday – it turned out to be 907 entries! Now they need to be checked (must remember to send the file so the team can check it tomorrow) and I can carry on with the indexing etc. I don’t think the CD will be out before Easter!

On Tuesday Findmypast released the Westminster Parish Registers. After passing on the information via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail, I settled down to extract all the Madder entries for my one-name study and download the images of those that were actually Madder and not wrongly transcribed as such. The following day Ancestry replied with some London Marriage Bonds, so went through the same routine. Funny how they all come out at the same time! Fortunately none of my relatives were brave enough get the Victoria Cross. (Long term cost – annual subscriptions to both sites)

Wednesday afternoon would usually be spent checking the current transcription project (Harborough Magna PRs) but my fellow volunteer was away, so I took the opportunity of a day off – see my previous post.

Thursday I started preparation for meetings on Friday and Saturday. Friday evening was the monthly meeting of the Computer Group that I run for RugbyFHG. I had decided to introduce the group to the idea of using Blogs for Family History, so spent a lot of time trawling the internet for interesting Blogs to demonstrate. I then had to produce a handout. I don’t know if I persuaded anyone to start writing a Blog but it certainly opened a few eyes to what is available out there.

Saturday afternoon was the Warwickshire Regional Meeting of the Guild of One-Name Studies and I had been asked to give a talk on using Joomla for one-name websites. I planned to give a tour of my website , as it appears to the casual visitor and how it is set up “back side”.  It was not clear whether Internet access would be available at the venue, so I had to run through what I wanted to look at and take screen shots. As a last resort I could run them as a slide show. As it turned out I had to resort to my Mobile Broadband Dongle to get access.

It was interesting seeing how other members set up their websites, from actually writing the code, Parry ONS , to using a program to do the work Frearson ONS . (Cost petrol of trip from Rugby to Coventry and use of Dongle. Since I gave the talk I didn’t have to pay for refreshments!)

So now it is Sunday again. I can relax – apart from writing this Blog! On Tuesday there is a coach trip to TNA (price £20-25 depending on the number of members going.) My Reader’s Ticket has expired so I can’t pre-order any documents, but I still need to work out what I want to look at. And so it goes on.

Am I a Real Genealogist? All I can say at the moment is that I am a tired one!


  1. Well if that’s not real genealogy, I don’t know what is – I’m breathless just reading it!!

  2. Definitely a real genealogist! I hope you are still loving what you do.

    I would love to hear more about your one name study on your blog, as I am tentatively thinking about strating one.

    • I think genealogy has taken over my life – but I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

  3. Thanks for your Joomla presentation at the Warks GOONS meeting. I found it both interesting and thought provoking, so now I’m looking at how to improve my WordPress based site.
    I cannot make up my mind whether a small ONS website needs to concentrate on capturing visitors interest and so leaving a feedback comment or run the risk that they find what they want, or more likely not, in a family tree and disappear without trace so becoming a lost for ever contact.
    Thanks for the demo.

    • I don’t think I have an answer to what to put on your website.
      Perhaps we have to look at it from the point of view of the person visiting. If you were looking for your ancestors what would you like to find on a website, and what would encourage you to contact the owner?
      Good Luck and I’m glad you found the presentation helpful.

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