Monday, July 09, 2007

Does anyone have experience with the website ?

I spent about an hour this morning compiling an email to the owner of the "Middlesex Parish Register" collection located at . The site was brought to my attention by a Google Alert.

My email requesting more info was returned by the all-too-familiar MAILER-DAEMON. The link to the main site's CGI script for communicating with the website owners is broken.

My initial reaction to the collection was to assume the indexer is a neophyte researcher, who with all good intentions compiled a short (1MB zipped) set of transcribed parish records for a small group of parishes in Middlesex, England. The info would have been suspect if only presented as a zipped file. I do not download anything from anyone, unless there is a phone call telling me to expect the file. But this site also presented the compiled data in alpha format via links on the main page and my internet security software did not locate any problems that would lead me to believe this is a phishing site.

However, lacking the ability to directly communicate with the compiler or the webmaster, I now doubt the intention of the website where the compiler's work is posted. It shouldn't be required that a genealogy researcher be competent with "who-is" internet searches to obtain more information about a website.

One must simply chalk this site up as a useless, misguided mistake, like any other published genealogy with inadequate source citations.

It is sites like this that give online genealogy a black eye.

I sincerely hope to be corrected on this sad subject.

Please find my original email to the compiler below. Maybe this effort was merely a good exercise in analyzing a derivative source, per Elizabeth Shown Mill's
Evidence Analysis: A Research Process Map ?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :/
Your friend in genealogy.

From: DearMYRTLE []
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 8:42 AM
To: ''
Subject: Middlesex, England Parish Records transcription project -- need

Dear Sandy,
Good morning! There is no doubt that you worked diligently for many hours to provide this work.

This email is to ask that more information about the indexing process be placed on the website so your extensive and exhausting work can become meaningful to family historians with English roots in Middlesex.

1. Please provide bibliographic citation(s) for the “books at the Gainesville (FL) University Library West”.
2. Provide a link to the books in the library’s catalog online.
3. How are you associated with the compilers of the books?
4. Were the books created from photocopies of microfilmed parish records?
5. How was the data transcribed from the “original text” mentioned in your description of the books? Single or double-data entry typing? OCR?
6. What percentage of these entries is from parish registers and from BTs bishops’ transcripts)?
7. How many entries are in this collection?
8. How may one find the original entries essential to proving familial relationships? For instance, specific microfilm numbers, etc.

Personally, I am unclear about the library where you located these original records. I am familiar with the University of Florida, which is in Gainesville, Florida and there is a Gainesville State College in Georgia. But I am unfamiliar with Gainesville (FL) University. I was able to determine there is a University of Florida - Library West in the city of Gainesville, Florida with collections focused on the humanities, business, and social sciences. Is this the library where you located the books chosen for your transcription project?

It is unlikely that any US university would have 332 years of original “handwritten records” from the 147 some-odd parishes known to have existed for Middlesex as listed in The Phillimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers 3rd Edition by Cecil R.
Humphery-Smith. He reports on page 193-195 that original registers were
deposited at the following locations:

• London Metropolitan Archives
• Guildhall Library
• London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Archives & Local History Centre
• Westminster City Archives
• Hounslow Library & Local Studies
• Westminster Abbey Muniment Room, Westminster Abbey
• PRO (non-conformist records) [I think this has changed.]
• Society of Genealogists (some copies)

For researchers to fully benefit from your work, they will need to understand the scope of transcriptions in your collection within the context of the identified extant record groups. I would look for a comparison to christening and marriage transcriptions in relation to Boyd’s marriage index, Pallot’s marriage and the International Genealogical Index.

Researchers will come to value your index where it leads to finding the original source document mentioning an ancestor, but more information is needed.

I would appreciate a reply at your earliest convenience, and will then be happy to write a column spotlighting your work.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

[Explanatory text from original website]
Middlesex England Parish Records
“The database you are about to access contains parish marriage records in Middlesex County, England between 1563 and 1895. The data came from books at the Gainesville (FL) University Library West, which were arranged by parish, and
then by date, which was probably what you wanted to know because if you knew
that you didn't need the books. When created, the task of simply copying the
data as it was listed in the handwritten records and transferring it to print
was monumental. It preserved the records until they could be transcribed into a
useable format. I hope I have accomplished that goal and that the records can
now easily be used.

Because I typed them one by one into an old database, it was difficult for me to find someone with the expertise to get them off the disks and onto the web. It took months for me to find Ryan, and I am grateful for all he has done to put them into text format and find web space to house them.

All this work well be well worth it if you find something usable to advance your genealogical endeavors.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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