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logoProformat News                  ISSN 1833-9514
No 26
April 2008


April seminars

2 Apr: Old Handwriting,Park Holme Public Library 10:30am
19 Apr: Tracing your Welsh ancestors, Tea Tree Gully Public Library 1:30pm

See the seminar program for more details.

Flood in the SA Supreme Court Library
Over the weekend before Easter a leak flooded the Library of SA Supreme Court damaging many of the priceless records mentioned in the previous newsletter.
The leak is believed to have stemmed from a faulty connection on the third level of the building.
A spokesman for the Courts Administration Authority told the media there was minimal disruption to civil court cases but seemed far less worried about the priceless collection.
It was reported that it was fortunate the leak had not caused more damage to the library collection that is valued at about $4M.
Far too many historical and valued records held by sundry organisations are stored inappropriately and/or in unsatisfactory premises.

Rootsweb moves
The Generations Network has hosted and funded the RootsWeb site since June 2000 and is one of the largest free genealogy websites. The press release suggests it is also amongst the oldest, but we know that Graham Jaunay's Online Surname site has been operating since mid-1995.
From late March RootsWeb has been relocated onto the domain. This move will not change RootsWeb which will remain free online. What will be different is that the Web address for all RootsWeb pages will change from to

In this issue:

• April seminars
Flood in the SA Supreme Court Library
• Rootsweb moves

Web traps


Adelaide Proformat
5 Windana Mews
Glandore SA 5037

Tel: +61 8 8371 4465
Fax: +61 8 8374 4479


Drafting charts
Locating documents
Seminar presentations
Writing & publishing
SA lookup service
Ship paintings

The 2nd part of the article in the previous issue, Digital Cameras, will appear in the next issue.

Web traps

This is a foray into the web to expose some issues that may be faced when trawling for family history information. Not all of it is new as some has been outlined before but a reminder will not go astray!

The National Archives
The web site for The National Archives (TNA) at Kew outside London demonstrate a problem brought about by poor web site design that users can face if they do not read the whole text on the page. If you go hunting for your WW1 UK soldier ancestor you may not realise that there are two completely independent indexes on the site that do not necessarily cover the whole range of records. I have been dealing with an army family named Beckhuson recently and so I will use them as my example...

If you search TNA online catalogue for Beckhuson it reveals:
• WO 339/32016 Beckhuson D F, 2/Lieut
• WO 339/43091 Beckhuson, H W, 2/Lieut

You can secure these records directly in digital or paper format. The former comes in JEPG format and costs £8.50. The later can be also ordered on line but the process is a little more complicated.

If you search via the side panel on the gateway page at World War One soldiers records and thence the (catalogue reference WO 363) you get:
• Charles Beckhuson
• William Arthur Beckhuson

While it seems strange to me that the latter two are not also on the main catalogue, one has to ask why the former are not on this latter listing? The issue is muddied when you are made aware that William Arthur Beckhuson was discharged from the army in 1908 as unfit to serve and never served in WW1.

This second group of records is being managed by in partnership with The National Archives and they claim it is the first phase of the War Office (WO) service and pension records collections for approximately 2.5 million British soldiers who served from 1914 through to 1920. As a consequence the second search outcome is only available through Ancestry and the user has the option of pay-to view (£6.95) or a subscription. Both require a level of kerfuffle that may cause you to consider a trip to the nearest library that hold a subscription to Ancestry! I do not know if any reader has ever bothered to read the terms and conditions of membership—if you did, you will note, amongst others, a subscription is deemed to be on a continuous service basis placing the onus on the subscriber to discontinue the subscription. You also sign away Australian consumer rights.

Publishing an online family tree
Putting your own family tree online can be a great way of locating distant relatives and gleaning more information from them but you need to be very careful about the privacy of members listed on the tree. Be aware that this information could be used by identity thieves searching for personal data. There are noted instances of scam artists who want to sell your own information back to you bundled as a cheaply made book or software program. Start by removing personal information of all living people or preferably do not list them at all. If you must then remove:
   • Full names (use only initials)
   • Pension numbers
   • Complete dates of birth (show only the year instead)
   • Specific current and past addresses
   • Telephone numbers
   • E-mail addresses
   • Private affiliations
   • Private holdings, such as real estate or deeds of trust
   • Occupations and workplace details

Coats of Arms

There is an army of businesses out there who will sell you a coat of arms on a t-shirt, mug, or wall plaque. These companies are not always out to cheat you because many of them know no better. In reality, except for a few regions within Eastern Europe, there is no such thing as a family coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals, not families or surnames. For a person to have a right to a coat of arms, they must have either had it granted to them or be descended from the person to whom the coat of arms was originally granted according to heraldic principles.
Probably 99% of people entitled to bear arms already know it. Just consider how could a company that has not researched your family tree know whether you have the right to display a particular coat of arms?
If you're looking for something that is at best, a fun object or talking point, then go ahead knowing that it probably has very little if anything to do with your own family history.

Database searches
When conducting searches we should always treat surnames spelling with as much flexibility that is possible to get a reasonable result.
We can do this by using wild card searches. However, there are limits in that searching on initial and last letter of a name often turns up too many results to manage and we often have to pop some other letters into the mix.
Thus in searching BOGETT search as b*g*t and given the letter g is prone to be a j you would also test b*j*t. Always avoid vowels and in the selection of the letters to search vowel sounding letters in this form of searching and thus LAYTON is searched as l*t*n.
Names ending in el and ell should always be considered as having the potential to end in le and therefore this needs to be addressed as do names ending in es and s. Hence MITCHELL and MITCHLE and JANE and JANES.
Apart from the vowels and the consonants with vowel sounds, there is another group of letters that can prove difficult to manage. H at the start of a word and other letters within words can be silent in pronunciation and therefore should also be replaced with * in a wildcard search. Other letters can be interchanged like C and S, S and Z and so on. Double letters, especially at the end of words need to be considered too.
HOWELL proves to be a problem because once you have eliminated all the vowels etc you are left with the final l and it also ends in ell. In this case the wild card concept breaks down a little. If you retain initial letters and search h*l you will end up with too many results and many with nothing to do with HOWELL. The searches in this case would have to at least include: h*w*l* and o*w*l*. These will pick up: Hawel Hawels Hawell Hawells Hawill Hawills Hawle Hawles Hauwel Hauwels Hauwell Hauwells Howel Howels Howell Howells Howil Howils Howill Howills Howl Howls Howle Howles Hywel Hywels Owl Owls Owel Owels Owell Owells. They will not pick up other known variants and while I guess seeing a w in the mix should signal that the letter u is an option to be considered as in h*u*l* to pick up:Hauel Hauels Haul Hauls Houel Houels Houell Houells Houle Houle, the form Hoel Hoels may be missed by an inexperienced researcher!
Likewise with given names. In the initial search I ignore them altogether. If too many results turn up then I start searching using the initial only as in Mary - M*
This is much more tedious with hard copy searching but the principles remain the same.
When it comes to names with prefixes you should always consider the version without the prefix. For example, the McDonalds and the Macdonalds all belong to the Donald family. Indexers may leave off the prefixes and so the Von Bertouchs may be listed under just Bertouch.

Web scams and the like
Using the web inevitably means you will eventually be targeted by a scammer and unfortunately many family historians in their desire for knowledge take risky decisions. Probably the most common scams you may face will be variations of the following:
to recover a lost family fortune—join our group and pay a hefty subscription to mount a class campaign to recover out lost fortune. Common ones revolve around the surnames, Edwards, Buchanan and Baker.
   • let me park my substantial amount of money in your bank account for safe keeping—just give out all your banking details.
   • join our subscription web site and access millions, no billions, of names—there are several illegitimate subscription-based web sites for genealogy out there and so beware that the one you are about to give your credit card details is a well-known legitimate operation.
   • pay us a fee and we will reveal an inheritance you have overlooked—legitimate law firms, executors of Wills, and others who have been named to distribute estate funds to rightful heirs do not request a fee to reveal your share of an estate. They have a legal obligation to locate beneficiaries and distribute the estate according to the Will or law.

You cannot believe what you read
Burke's Peerage, a directory of the upper classes un the UK was started in 1826 by John Burke and followed by his son, Bernard, later Sir Bernard Farnham Burke, Garter King of Arms. Now you would think that book would be an authoritative resource, but in fact Burke senior was enamoured by the romance of ancestry and the desire to find a significant ancestor and so was far too easily satisfied with credible but untested genealogies. This was an era when snobbery was inseparable from genealogy! Editors before the War became only too aware of the shortcomings of this annual publication and started putting things right but before this was finished the naming rights were sold and there is some evidence that the current publishers share the methodology of the founder!
If you use any nineteenth century publication on the subject of genealogy and heraldry, you need to treat what you find with considerable scepticism until you can verify otherwise.

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