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NickForder View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: National Archives
    Posted: 25 Sep 2012 at 09:27
Following on from Jeff's article in the most recent issue of the Journal, I would agree that the new TNA Discovery search engine is a mixed blessing.
However, on the positive side, it did alllow me to find a Derbyshire Yeoman called 'T Smith' who eluded me in the old on-line system.
Having just tried to work my way through the L&NWR Roll of Honour (usefully giving names and ranks, but no units), I would say that a major issue with both systems is the lack of forename/initial option now a feature of the CWGC website. This means that you can search on the middle initials (assuming they are listed), but cannot search on the first initial if the complete forename is listed.
Transcription errors (at whatever point) will always be an issue, and the things Jeff identifies are true equally of Free BMD, the Naval & Military Press Soldiers Died CD and Cenus Returns in Ancestry. The Soldiers Died CD has many, many typos (as well as the original compilers having a unique sense of geography), but running the options is still a lot quicker than working through each printed volume, battalion by battalion....
Ancestry does allow you to view scans of original documents and, unlike TNA, the Medal Index cards have been scanned both sides and in colour (the reverse side sometimes carries an address to which medals were sent). Ancestry doesn't allow you to copy and paste original documents, but printing them out is cheaper than the TNA method.
The other good thing about Ancestry is that most libraries have a version you can use for free, assuming you are prepared to queue with the Facebook Massive poking each other across the desk as verbal conversation is so overrated....
Ancestry has quite a lot of military records on it (including a lot of US ones), and I have found WW1 service documents on it, and the ability to cross check with the 1911 Census is very useful.
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Ian Burns View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Sep 2012 at 20:40
I've tried both the old and new search systems and, to be honest, neither could be classified as great.  Adequate at best.
This is particularly annoying for overseas researchers such as myself.  We have to use paid researchers to do the dirty work for us, and is is helpful and money saving to be able to point them in the general direction.
However, that said, I have been blessed with a superb 'hired gun' over the past couple of decades.  He's now threatening to retire, in part due to the changes at the archives.  So, I'll have to train a new researcher into my peculiar little historical folies Cry
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Errol Martyn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Errol Martyn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Sep 2012 at 01:11
Jeff also raised the issue of withdrawal of the printed indexes, thus removing a means of picking up on errors and omissions in the online catalogue.
Surely TNA could put some part of the savings they are making with these significant changes towards scanning the original indexes and placing them online for free download (as has been done with the likes of the WO338 indexes to army officer records) as an additional aid to reserachers?
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John-G View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John-G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Sep 2012 at 22:47

I have been down to the TNA today to do a bit of research in AIR76.


I was looking for an Officer who served in 55 Squadron and who’s surname is Owen.  I followed the trail through various pages to search AIR76 eventually a search box came asking for a surname and first name. I did not know the Owen’s  first name.  The search using the new system came up with over 500 men with the name Owen in their name. So you get all the men whose surname was Owen and all the ones that had Owen in their full name.


If you use the old system on line you will see there are only 99 Officers with the surname Owen?  And that is one of the problems with the new system.  Also if the search box asks for a surname, why does it include all the names that contain Owen?  Heaven help a search for a Smith or Jones.


(By the way the same thing happens with WO339 and 374.)

As visits to the TNA are expensive if you live outside metropolitan London, the last thing you want to do is spend any time on fruitless searches.   And they should keep all the paper indexes for cross referencing purposes.



It leaves a bit to desired
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