Musings

Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by Guy, May 17, 2013.

  1. Guy

    Guy Whose knowledge is boundless

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    Musings ; past present & future.

    Through out life we all go through changes, when I started in family history things were very different, almost like a different world.
    Civil registers could be viewed in person at the local registrars office (as now) as could the registers stored at the Superintendant Registrars office, this changed in around 1975 just before genealogy became a popular pastime.
    Parish Registers could as in a number of cases today be viewed in the local church but unlike today if the writing had faded the register could be treated with a light brush with ammonium sulphide to restore the colour of the ink.

    Archives such as Somerset House, St Catherine's House and even the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane no longer provide for the family historian.

    Today much research is through the internet and even when one visits an archive access to original common records is restricted to digitised or filmed records with original records only being viewed when other sources are not available or are inadequate. This approach does protect the records but is not as thrilling as viewing the original physical record.

    But what of the future?
    How many records will be available in digitised form?
    Will this decrease the numbers of trained archivists who know their records and can help the researcher?
    Will the number of archives deminish reducing access to the less commonly used resources?
    Will local archives even exist or will records be housed in out-stores only accessible by ordering and waiting for a scan to be emailed?
    Cheers
    Guy
     
    Eve likes this.
  2. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Bit like going to the super market & scanning your own goods out. They still need people to stack the shelves tho':)
     
  3. Blackmogs

    Blackmogs Moderator. General Dogs(cats)body. Staff Member

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    Well Guy, my next door neighbour is 87 and she thinks that the sort of on line genealogy we do is not 'proper' research. And I can see what she means to some extent. She and her late hubby went to St Catherine's House and pored over the books there, for us to see what we do on line doesn't seem as hard fought. The first time I sat her down in fron of my PC she could not believe what I was doing and in the space of an hour I had pushed her back two generations. I don't think she thought that was 'real' even when I showed digital images of a parish register.

    Your supposition regarding record offices and archivists is becoming reality in Kent. We used to have a dedicated archive, now we have one tiny room which is attached to a regular library and only three readers outside of this room. The main desk is personed by a librarian rather than an archivist and I understood more about sources than he did. I couldn't understand why Kent County Council was investing in a brand new archive in such times of financial crisis. Now I do, it is a shadow of its former self and not a patch on other archives I have visited.
     
  4. Guy

    Guy Whose knowledge is boundless

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    Quite so but unfortunately too close to the mark.
    Skilled curators may be replaced by "shelf stackers" working there because their job seekers allowance will be stopped otherwise.
    See below for the alternative.

    To me the ease of access may create problems.
    I feel that all to often researchers get caught up in the chase when online and often don't evaluate each record as the get it.
    They tend to accept the record and use it to jump to the next in the progression rather than trying to find other records to confirm it correct.

    I like the description of the "duties of" PRO staff by Vanessa Carr.
    http://www.
    history.ac.uk/makinghistory/resources/articles/PRO_TNA.html

    "In 1840 Assistant Keepers were reminded of their obligation to give every information assistance in their power to searchers, not merely from the calendars and indexes but also from their own knowledge of the records. Any time not employed serving the public was to be ‘sedulously and unremittingly employed’(18) in the making of inventories, calendars and catalogues and sorting and arranging the records. The Master of the Rolls considered that this was one of the most important duties of the grade."

    These curators build their knowledge of the records in their care over years of experience and are a valuable resource we lose at our peril.
    Cheers
    Guy
     
  5. Blackmogs

    Blackmogs Moderator. General Dogs(cats)body. Staff Member

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    Completely agree with this. I told my next door neighbour that all the stuff we find on line needs to be followed up and used just as a pointer. That the supposition needs to be validated. The problem is, when you go to the LMA for example, and ask to look at microfiche or films etc. so that you can go through them yourself line by line, they point you to Ancestry and say it has all been digitised. It hasn't - we found several years were missing from the Ancestry stuff which were actually available on microfiche. To be fair they did listen and let me have them but that was because I pushed a bit. When you go to a place like Wiltshire and Swindon, Essex or West Sussex record Offices, you find real archives and real people who know what they have and how to find it.
     
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  6. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    I must admit that I do like the Essex Archives. They have always been so helpful - as has the little office in Ipswich, Suffolk.
     
    Blackmogs likes this.

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