Let’s get the England and Wales Probate Calendar Indexes to Wills online!

I’ve received the following email. You can have your vote towards getting the Index to Probates for England and Wales since 1858 online, as long as you do it in the next day or so (allowing for the time difference).

Subject: Re: ENGLAND & WALES Probate Calendar

John Briden HMCS (Her Majesty’s Courts Service) is hoping to get the  Probate Calendar Indexes to Wills and Grants, issued since 1858 in England and Wales online.

The index includes the full name and address of the deceased and date of death. See http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms/1226.htm

He has put together a short questionnaire and would like to receive as many responses as possible by Friday 27th March.  I realise that this is very short notice but if you are able to help by responding to John it would be appreciated. 

Copy and paste the questions below into an email, add your answers and send your responses to john.briden@justice.gsi.gov.uk

  • Q1. If the probate calendar was available on the internet, would you use it?
  •  
  • Q2. If you would use it – how often would you use it?
  •  
  • Q3. What probate information would you be interested in seeing online, and why that particular information?
  •  
  • Q4. Would you like to order copies online, and be prepared to pay for them online?
  •  
  • Q5. Would you prefer to access the calendar online, but order and pay for copies by post, or by telephone?
  •  
  • Q6. Would you be prepared to pay a premium to the fee, in addition to the normal cost for a more immediate service?


Original message from:

Mauren Bullows

Archives Liaison Officer

Email: archives.liaison@ffhs.org.uk 

www.ffhs.org.uk

 This email has been sent by: 

The Federation of Family History Societies a Company Limited by Guarantee

Company Number 2930189 (England & Wales) – Registered Charity Number 1038721

Registered Office: Artillery House, 15 Byrom Street, Manchester, England M3 4PF

Just cut-and-paste the questions into an email, add your answers, and send to john.briden@justice.gsi.gov.uk. Let’s add our Australian voices to this issue!

My thanks to Michelle Nichols for drawing this to my attention.


Digital Microfilm at the National Archives

From the webpage of the new Digital Microfilm pilot project of the National Archives in the UK:

Introduction

Digital Microfilm is a project piloting a new way to deliver records online. The National Archives has a large collection of microfilmed records, and by making these available online we hope to increase their accessibility. This will ultimately allow the microfilm readers used at The National Archives, Kew to be retired.

We have digitised four records series Link to glossary - opens in a new window of military and naval records. If the project is successful, we intend to add a wide variety of record series covering many different areas of interest. Many of the records are indexes and we hope that these will be helpful in locating other relevant records.

The new way of delivery is by using very large pdfsLink to glossary - opens in a new window, each of which contains a whole pieceLink to glossary - opens in a new window, which could be up to 800 pages long. This means that Digital Microfilm is only available to online users with a broadband connection, and to users in the Reading Rooms at The National Archives.

These records have not been indexed, and so you will need to scroll through the pdfs, much as you would when using a microfilm. However, we would be more than happy for users to transcribe any of the Digital Microfilm content, and post it on Your Archives, The National Archives’ online community of records users.

These documents are free of charge to download. If you try out the Digital Microfilm pilot, we would be grateful for your comments.

Browsing the documents

The Digital Microfilm pilot means that we have made entire piecesLink to glossary - opens in a new window available free of charge. We have not indexed the detail within the records and so you would not be able to search them in the same way as you could search for a medal card, for example. Instead you will need to scroll through the pdfs, much as you would when using a microfilm.

You can use our Quick and Advanced search forms to search for the full catalogue reference, for example WO 144/1. Alternatively there is also a specific search form for these documents.

If you are unsure which catalogue reference interests you, we would recommend searching the Catalogue first. In each of our guides to the records below, we have included a link to the catalogue entry for each collection to help you with your search. When you are viewing the catalogue entry for a piece which interests you, click on the ‘Request this’ button and follow the instructions to download the item.

Technical Requirements

These are large pdf files, and you will need to have a broadband internet connection in order to download them. It may take your computer some time to download each file. Once you have downloaded the pdf file, we recommend that you save the document to your computer for future reference.

These are large files to download, being on average 400MB. You may wish to contact your broadband provider to check whether large downloads will incur a cost to you.

To view the pdfs you will need to have Adobe Reader installed on your computer. Read more about Adobe Reader

When printing from these files, be careful that you do not opt to print the whole document, because some of them are over 800 pages long. Instead, specify which page numbers you would like to print.

I’ve tried this and although it’s slow it does work. I downloaded a coastguard file from Ireland which was 314MB. I have a broadband connection but we must remember that the speeds we get in Australia are very slow compared to other countries.

The files that are available so far are probably of limited use to NSW genealogists. The names in the files are not indexes so you have to have an idea that you might find something useful in them to start with, and then go looking. The usual problems of reading old handwriting and microfilm quality are apparent.

Notwithstanding the problems I think this is a brilliant way to get records out there quickly. If we were to wait for the National Archives staff or volunteers to index the records we would be waiting for many years. The alternative is for a commercial company like Ancestry or FindMyPast to do it. Searching would be easier but the cost is a factor and the perceived value of these records may be such that they may not get around to them for some years.

Show your support for this project by giving it a go. The more people they have using it the more successful they will see it, and hopefully the more records they add.

The webpage is here.