Talking of Maps

Last month I presented a talk entitled ‘How maps were made and why it matters to family historians’ at the Bury St Edmunds group of the Suffolk Family History Society.  Online maps are becoming ever more common as technology makes the process easier.  A map is only as good as the data it draws on, so beware.

The example discussed in Lost in 1939 – The Misleading Map contains both good and bad data in FindMyPast’s maps linked to the 1939 Register.  The difference between where roads in the QBEZ enumeration district actually are and where FindMyPast puts them is show in this Google Map:


© Sue Adams 2016


When You Need More Than Your Friends Can Give

In With a Little Help from Friends and Strangers, I made some suggestions about how to effectively ask for help with examples from social media and Stack Exchange. I included making your question specific, identifying the people with pertinent knowledge and not expecting others to do the work for you.

How much can and should you expect from friends and volunteers? When you need someone with particular expertise to spend time on your question, it may be time to hire a professional genealogist.

Making your question specific whilst providing enough information will help the professional work efficiently, giving you more value for your money. Consider practicing asking directed questions with friends before approaching a professional.

Look at the professional genealogist’s qualifications and areas of expertise, in the detail of listings with professional membership organisations such as the Association of Professional Genealogists.

The one time you can expect someone to do the work for you is when you have paid them. Please pay a fair rate that is commensurate with the professional’s expertise and time spent on your question.


Reading Old Handwriting and Transcription Tools

An essential part of a genealogist’s work is reading old handwriting and making an accurate, faithful transcription for use in analysis.

Therefore my contribution to Worldwide Genealogy this month is A Transcription Toolbox.


Dutch October

Following Gaenovium, the genealogy technology conference on 7 October 2014, I gave a brief report on Mondays with Myrt – 13 Oct 2014, at timestamp 10:00.  After some exploration of newly discovered projects, I published more detailed thoughts at Gaenovium – Keys to Open Data and Open Standards.

Ubitquitous in Leiden, the bicycle aka. fiets.

Ubitquitous in Leiden, the bicycle aka. fiets.

Travel is always stimulating, so inspired by the city of Leiden, this month’s contribution to Worldwide Genealogy examines an important group of starter records for those with Dutch ancestry in Going Dutch, starting with Civil Registration.

© Sue Adams 2014

Technical momentum – Gaenovium and FHISO

It is a busy time in the world of genealogy technology.

Gaenovium 2014

On 7 October 2104, Gaenovium, a conference “exclusively for academics, developers and visionaries at the forefront of genealogy technology” takes place in Leiden, The Netherlands.  I have been wanting to meet and exchange ideas with just such a group of people for some time.  The arrival of my renewed passport this week gives me the final green light.

The Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO) has also been active recently, as I reported on my regular monthly slot at Worldwide Genealogy, with FHISO is back in action. User input needed.

The role of the archival catalogue as a fundamental research tool is a theme to which I keep returning.  Efficient, accurate resource discovery whether online, in a physical archive or in my personal archive, is essential.  In Criteria for Assessing the Quality of Genealogy Websites and Online Data, I stated that the catalogue was the most important feature of genealogical websites that offer access to digital copies of original records.  In Provenance of a Personal Collection – Archival Accession, Arrangement and Description, I demonstrated the use of a prototype archival-style catalogue in support of a piece of genealogical research.

© Sue Adams 2014

Who was your family Snapper or Shutterbug?

The Snapper snapped

“The Snapper snapped”. Candid Camera. Alberton High School magazine 1979. p. 11. [Photograph depicts Stephen Adams at Alberton High School, 35 Phantom Street, Randhart, Alberton, Transvaal, South Africa]

In an age where ubiquitous digital cameras make the popular selfie a snap, we forget how photographic technology influenced the kinds of pictures our forebears took. In this months contribution to Worldwide Genealogy, A Genealogical Collaboration, I use the photo collections in my custody to get to know my family’s snappers and shutterbugs better in Snappers and Shutterbugs – Who Took Your Family Photos?

Using 1914 Documents to Understand World War I

In this month’s contribution to Worldwide Genealogy: A Genealogical Collaboration I used 3 sources that date from 1914:

  • An ultimatum (transcript).
  • A newspaper.
  • A report on the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.

Take a look at On the Brink of War.

Worldwide Genealogy Collaboration – Bachelor Uncles

Yesterday, I contributed an article about my favourite document in my regular guest post on the 22nd of each month at Worldwide Genealogy-A Genealogical Collaboration.  The Bachelor Uncle’s Will describes William Wilson’s relationships with 6 siblings, 22 nephews and nieces, and 5 grand nephews and grand nieces.

Relationships described in William Wilson's will, 1788

Relationships described in William Wilson’s will, 1788


Worldwide Genealogy – A Blogging Collaboration

Since January I have been contributing an article on the 22nd of each month to Worldwide Genealogy – A Genealogical Collaboration.

Today’s post is There Be Dragons – Finding Tithe Maps for England and Wales.  It includes some examples of good archive catalogue entries that help genealogists to properly assess sources.

Last month’s article, Criteria for Assessing the Quality of Genealogy Websites and Online Data, advocated for the inclusion of more comprehensive archive style catalogue functionality in genealogy data vendor’s websites.

In March and February I examined two quality websites created by academic historians that offer interesting and colourful records:

Soundtoll Registers Online – Danish Maritime Tax Records and

Global Reach of the Old Bailey Online, thanks to the Collaboration of Academic Historians

Finally, it all started with a tale of bloggers helping one another to solve a question:

A Blogging Collaboration Leads to the Answer