Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: A is for … A2A (Access to Archives)...

You might think hang on, what is she doing. Is she starting the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge again??  In short no, but let me explain. As I never actually did the letter A thanks to a lack of inspiration which lasted until about the letter J or so, and I really would like to complete the whole alphabet, I am doing it now. And I figured it was better to do it at the end, rather than right in the middle. So for my A post … A is for … A2A (Access to Archives) Some of you may have heard of the A2A website, others may not have. But for me it is one of the most amazing sites around. As part of the UK’s National Archives, the A2A database contains indexed listings of items and documents that archives throughout England hold. These records date from the eighth century to the present day. While it contains an impressive 10.3 million records relating to 9.45 million items held in 418 record offices and other repositories, the estimate is that this is still only about 30% of all records that the archive repositories hold. Even with only 10 million records (who am I kidding, 10 million records indexed is 10 million more than I would have known about had it not been for this site) this site is awesome. On the opening search screen, you can type in a keyword such as a name or a place, and see what comes up. However if you click on Advanced Search you can narrow it down to include “all these words”, choose a date range, choose a place, select a repository, or select a region. I nearly always just do...

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: O is for … Online Parish Clerks (OPC’s)...

I found that coming up with something for the letter “O” of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge was a bit of a toughy, but finally found some inspiration, and would like to tell you about one of the websites that I’ve used a lot with my research. O is for ONLINE PARISH CLERKS (or OPCs as they’re more commonly known) Online Parish Clerks are a group of volunteers who transcribe parish records, and make them available online for free. The main Online Parish Clerks website makes the statement that OPCs “… are volunteers who collect genealogical information about a specific parish and answer email enquiries without charge”. Sound too good to be true? Well, it is 100% true. As genealogists we all know that parish records are fabulous records (and by that I mean MUST-HAVE records). I mean they include baptisms, marriages, marriage banns, and burials … so of course genie’s are gonna love them! But the OPCs go further than just the ‘core’  records. Depending on the county, you’ll also find histories of towns, old maps, monumental inscriptions, indexes of wills, as well as military records. The volunteers involved with the Online Parish Clerks Project are not only passionate about genealogy, but are also wanting to give something back, and do so by transcribing records, and answering queries, rather a variant form of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK). There are 11 individual OPC websites running at present, each covering a different English county: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Somerset, Sussex, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire. Fortunately Cornwall, Devon and Sussex are where my main research focus lies at present. Remember the ‘transcriptions on the OPC websites are all a ‘work-in-progress’, but between them, they’ve transcribed millions...