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Proformat News
No: 109
March 2015
March Seminars
1: Hindmarsh Heritage Walk: A town on the Torrens, 2:00-4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
4: How to be a successful family historian (2nd of 7 sessions), 8:00-9:30pm WEA Centre Adelaide
8: Glenelg Heritage Walk: Settlement to resorts, 2:00-4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
11: How to be a successful family historian (3rd of 7 sessions), 8:00-9:30pm WEA Centre Adelaide
15: Port Adelaide Heritage Walk: Government precincts, 2:00-4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
18: How to be a successful family historian (4th of 7 sessions), 8:00-9:30pm WEA Centre Adelaide
22: Semaphore Heritage Walk: Seaside heritages, 2:00-4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
25: How to be a successful family historian (5th of 7 sessions), 8:00-9:30pm WEA Centre Adelaide
29: Adelaide SE Corner Heritage Walk: Village within a city, 2:00-4:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide
31: Effectively using FamilySearch websites, 6:00-9:00pm WEA Centre Adelaide

April Seminars
There are no seminars in April.

May Seminars
There are no seminars in May.

All bookings must be made with the hosting organisation.

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

Special notice to regular readers
The May newsletter will be made available to subscribers in mid-April but will not be available online until the end of May.

Dorset records
FindMyPast now has baptisms (1538–1912), marriages (1541–1037) and burials (1538–1986) indexes available online.

In this issue:
March Seminars
April Seminars
May Seminars

Special notice to regular readers
Dorset records

Feature article
Is that truly a barrier?


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Is that truly a barrier?
It can be very frustrating when you're up against a barrier in your family history research. Some people call these brick walls but more often than not the barrier is not impenetrable and rather than being a barrier may in fact just be that we have not located the appropriate records. Maybe the material is located on an undiscovered website or a pay-to use website for which we do not hold a subscription. Perhaps the material has not been digitised and so is hiding away in some distant collection in hard copy form. The fact we have not searched all the records can hardly justify calling the barrier to progress research a brick wall!

Let’s start with some of these access issues. There are a few key players in the pay-to-use websites and to hold a subscription even with the big three, Ancestry, FindMyPast and TheGenealogist, would be quite expensive. You need to check them all because their coverage of records differs. It is far cheaper to take out a membership with your local family history society if they have access. The case of Adelaide residents, GenealogySA holds a subscription to all three making their annual membership fee a bargain! Some comprehensive searching using Google can reveal the locations of other electronic records. Use specific search terms like a county name and the group of records you seek. A useful site to start searching for online family history records is Forebears. There are options to search countries, regions and towns with the latter being the most useful.

Many paper records are in fact also online in unexpected places. For example many English counties had societies who used to publish parish register transcriptions. For example you can find a book of transcribed burial registers for every county in England apart from nine. A typical example of such a group still operational is the Lancashire Parish Register Society that was formed in 1898 and has published over 250 volumes of parish register transcriptions.

Many transcribed registers, but not all, are freely available to read and download as PDF files and the like at Open Library.

Pictured: The parish register of Ripon published in 1926 by the Yorkshire Parish Register Society from Open Library.

Currently the Open Library site has over 3,400 parish registers listed and 524 are available to read online. The counties best represented are:
  • Yorkshire
  • Lancashire
  • Shropshire
  • Surrey
  • London
The library holds a multitude of other topics and titles that may prove useful research tools. For example there are no less than 67 online books about Ripon ranging from history, biography, genealogy, consistory court judgements, treaties, addresses and speeches.

Even if the book on the site has not been released to read or download, it will at least make you aware that such a publication exists and may indeed be found in a nearby library!

Pictured: Part of a page from the Yorkshire Parish Register Society publication, The Registers of Brantingham 1902.

The modern day online not-for-profit Parish Register Transcription Society was formed in April 1999 with the aim of publishing transcripts of parish registers and/or manuscripts/records of use to researchers in family history. The Society has no ties to any UK county, and will consider publishing any suitable material which is of genealogical interest.

Some organisations have started placing digitised versions online. These are best located with a simple Google search using the parish name.

Pictured: Wetwang Register 1766.

Barriers occur when you arrive at a point in your research where there is no clear option in the records available rather than not being able to find the record. In the case of my Puttick ancestry I am faced with two men of the same name being born in the same parish in the same year. They are likely to be cousins, but I cannot be certain as yet because I have been unable to find records of these two men’s ancestry.

Not only are we faced with many people sharing the same family name within a small locality but many parish registers before the introduction of ruled registers in 1812 lack detail in the entries to allow a researcher to confidently identify individuals. Burial registers are a particular problem because often no indication of the age of the deceased is given. Baptism registers that omit names of parents are also unhelpful!

Too much research time is taken hunting out records rather than hunting out distant relatives by developing the trees of ancestors’ siblings. In fact over the years my personal research and significant breakthroughs have mainly been the consequence of making contact with distant cousins!

There are other strategies that rely on your distant cousins being interested in their ancestry too. How do you find your remote family? The very best way to find these people is to widely advertise your research interests. Consider some of these strategies as ways to find these fellow travellers…
  • create a family history web page
  • include your research interest in family history magazines
  • join a family history society
  • create a public Facebook account purely for your family history
  • use social media like Twitter and tag to spread your message (eg #genealogy)
Another helpful strategy is to refocus on another part of the family tree and leave the issue causing the problem. Sometime coming back to a barrier down the track will result in progress when you have refreshed!

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