From: "robert williams" <>
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2012 6:04 PM
Subject: [Dyfed] The Written word.
Many Years ago I had an E.Mail off somebody who had traced their
history using nothing but the I.G.I;
Their facts were therefore based on what somebody else had told them,and
NO research in to the Actual Parish Registers had been done whatsoever.
Certainly I would always have the gravest doubts about anyone claiming to
have traced their ancestry back two or three hundred years using nothing but
the IGI - given the inevitable gaps and omissions within the surviving
registers. Also to say nothing of the probable missed opportunities to
flesh out their Family History from other sources. I think this would still
hold true even with a relatively uncommon surname.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Brian P. Swann" <>
To: "'Diana Trenchard'" <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 10:53 PM
Subject: Re: [Dyfed] The Written Word.
I still think we are in a transition in family history.
This is the communication revolution really starting to exert its power.
Provided everyone always accepts that ease and quantity of communication is
not necessarily the same as quality. For example, anyone can edit
Wikipedia, and indeed it does contain some very useful articles. But an
interesting view of the downside is provided by Timothy Messer-Kruse's piece
Similarly huge numbers of people can contribute (normally with minimal
moderatorial interference) to "Have Your Say" pages on numerous TV, radio
and newspaper websites - has this particularly led to noticeably higher
The questions are how critical will these Groups be of the online
information provided, and how good is that online information anyway.
Some people who have had to deal with Ancestry in the past are very
jaundiced - and believe they will never listen effectively to criticism
... But the quality of the work they have done on the London and Middlesex
parish registers is atrocious. Within the next 6 weeks I intend to find
out what the London Metropolitan Archives really think of their
relationship with them - in some ways I think they must be secretly
embarrassed - but are they actively involved in any follow-up change
process, or have they washed their hands of it?
Is it really the LMA's problem? Whilst any inaccuracies might indeed be
regrettable, if people (including computer users) decide to adopt a new
tool - clearly with some limitations as to its functionality - and then
choose to use it carelessly or inappropriately, then it's surely their own
lookout? Ancestry has hitherto never had the highest of reputations for
accuracy, and doubtless some allowance for this was made at the time. Did
anybody else offer a more credible tender? I dare say the LMA staff have
quite sufficient other issues to worry about, without taking on board other
people's problems. As regards the latter, they surely cannot expect any
more in the way of staff assistance (assuming no additional payment is being
made) than that normally offered to any other researchers.
Whilst on the subject of transcripts and databases, one quite often reads
criticisms of the use of overseas labour (e.g. Indian) for the purposes of
keying in data, given these operators' initial lack of familiarity with
local surnames and placenames. My own view is that whilst these
disadvantages should not be underestimated, neither should they be
overestimated. Having myself done a fair number of transcripts relating to
new areas, my experience is that (particularly if given access to
appropriate reference sources) if one is doing the work almost continuously,
one soon begins to recognise the same placenames when they recur frequently,
and it is these very same names which it is of the greatest importance to
get correct. If more local operators - able and willing to devote the same
numbers of hours, operating under the same overall management, and within
the same timescale and budget - were indeed available, why wouldn't they
then be recruited? In the end (as has already been said) the chances are
that no new genealogical database is ever likely to be perfect.