Monday, August 28, 2006

COCP Newsletter No 13

Hello folks

The grandchildren have all gone; covered in salt, sweat & sand. Well, I was. They had their first taste of surf school and have already checked that they can come again next year. Throwing out the empties made me realise that we had also drunk a lot of wine! The adults not the grandchildren.

It has been reported that spring in Europe this year was about 4 weeks early - except for SW England, where it was on time. There is a faint touch of autumn about the weather at the moment in Cornwall - which suggests to me that Autumn is 4 weeks early!

Now I am up to my neck in census returns; Cornish, North Wilts AND Warwickshire. As Rick is away till later this week, nothing will be published for a couple of weeks.

A few pointers. Did you know that if you write RN in the occupation field, it will come out as Rn? You must have a space to make it capitalise. Text in the notes field does not capitalise. If you don't put in the capital letters, then you will get r n and I will have to alter it.

Some people are overdoing the abbreviations. You have 29 spaces, please use them. So "a" for acres, but 1m can be entered in full. It looks better, or at least, I think it does. If you are using a templated spreadsheet, then you only have 22 spaces for occupation. One of these days I will fix that. You can always use the notes field, but I would rather you got it all in the occupation field, as long as it makes sense and looks nice!

Indicates of rank etc, Esquire, Lord, Senior and Junior, are all entered after the forename. (Esq), (Lord), (Snr) & (Jnr) and so on.

I am going to publish the General Instructions on this blog, starting now. Please re-read them, especially the paragraphs on place born.



Sunday, August 06, 2006

NWOCP Newsletter No 3

Hello folks

Greetings from Cornwall, where the summer visitor is in full flood (see earlier COCP newsletter).

In our 8th month now and we are starting to see a steady flow of completed pieces. We have done and put online:

RG091275 Cricklade
RG101876 Highworth
RG101877 Highworth
RG101901 Calne
Rg101902 Calne
RG101904 Marlborough
RG101905 Marlborough.

Almost all the 1861 & 1871 pieces are being worked on, with a number being checked. Our first 1891 piece has been transcribed and I have a checker lined up for that. About a dozen 1841 parishes are transcribed and as soon as I can find some more checkers I will start pushing the 1841 for completion. Free Census have now produced the data file required for checking.

All our work is going online on and on the main Free Census online database. Please take a look at our web site and browse the stuff on this blog - there might be something for you!

Recently, a couple of volunteers have recruited relatives and friends; if you know someone who might be interested, please get them to drop me a line.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Advice for transcribers

Hello folks

Recently I asked two of our most experienced checkers for some general advice for transcribers. The second checker's comments are in brackets. They have both just finished very large 1851 pieces.

1. Since the programme (Excel) has a memory function, they should be careful using it. The transcriber must have spelled 'Louisa' as 'Lousia' the first time and never bothered to look at what he/she was typing after that. In the same way 'Ellen' showed up as 'Ellen Ann' after that.

2. Do use the resources of the net, et cetera when coming upon a strange name. I constantly had to go to 1841 or 1861 or 1881 to make corrections of names that were not all that difficult to read. [Michael: I use Google a lot, it will often give hits on place & personal names]

3. Be aware of gender - I often had a Francis, son, given as Female. (I find that if the transcriber misreads a name, then the rest of the tx'd data is often wrongly adjusted to match the misreading eg relationship & gender.)

4. Check birth towns. There is no Bugle in Cornwall but there is a Breage. [Michael: Six miles from where I am sitting is a village called Bugle!!!!!] (I just keep the GENUKI big/eng page open and refer to that. If it says Bugle CON, then it'll get checked as Bugle CON.)

5. If a transcriber comes upon an unreadable name and three lines later the same name is now written more clearly, go back and make the correction to the name instead of leaving the job to the checker.

6. If a transcriber wants to type in a wife's occupation as 'miner' or 'fisherman', he/she should realize that the occupation has probably been transcribed to the wrong person. (yes ... but if it's what the enumerator wrote (as is sometimes the case) then so be it.)

7. Do use software, where possible, to improve the quality of the original page - I use Adobe Photoshop to sharpen and improve the contrast. (Never yet needed to do it, but agree. With a flat screen you can often view it off angle to achieve some change of colour/contrast etc.)

(8. Quite often I find lines are transposed or translated mid-line (maths term ie shifted) ... I'm guessing that the transcriber is going down the page in columns, and I'm checking left to right. But it is a real pain with WINCC to put the lines back together again.) [Michael: This might be my fault - as I often advise transcribers to transcribe vertically]

(9. Also it might seem obvious but married couples usually tend to have similar ages with children aged at least 20 years less than the younger of the two. Yes I know there are exceptions, but it does beg a double check when transcribing.)

(10. Servants, lodgers, boarders, visitors, in-laws etc usually have a different surname to the main household.)

(But I do pity anyone battling with the fiche scans of 1851. They're very variable. Ancestry's done a much better job scanning at least, though their index is a little fanciful at times.)

COCP Newsletter No 12

Hello folks

First wave of grandchildren leave tomorrow morning; second wave arrives on Monday afternoon; 3rd wave the following Sunday. Even so, we have managed to keep the show on the road.

We are now down to the last five pieces of the 1861; might be finished in October. 25 of the 235 1851 parishes remain to be completed and about half the 1871. More of the 1881 is now being tackled, with a couple of new checkers arriving.

I would like to remind everyone that our aim is to reproduce what the enumerator wrote - "as is". Not what he should have wrote (it is nearly always a him); but what he actually wrote. If he has a 70 year-old woman with a five-year old son don't bother to flag it up or write me a note that it is obviously not a son.

On place of birth names, someone pointed out to me recently that it would be difficult to search for a parish name on the Free Census OLDB, because many of our transcripts (although "as is") have variations on the modern names. I am afraid that we are between a rock and a hard place on this one. Because we also put our returns online as texts, we don't believe this is an unsurmountable problem for researchers. And it is nice to leave them something to do......

Is everyone aware of C-PROP on ? Currently it has 326,931 parish records online - all FREE! We are concentrating on CoE records at the moment, but have also started to extract the data from the West Briton project. If you have any transcripts - why not send them in - we will sort them out for uploading.

This project is built on the use of emails. You can, and should, be dropping Kay or myself or both of us, an occasional line saying how things are going. Don't leave us in the dark. There is also the alternative of using Instant Messaging. There is an earlier piece on this blog about jabber. Try it out and you might get an instant response. You can use it for census queries or anything else. Do I, for instance, know your great aunt Ethel? You never know.....

If you have tried Google Earth, it has recently released v4. It has a really nice shot of Mitchell, my home village; you can almost see me waving from the top of my jungle (garden)