Our quarterly journal has been published continuously since the Society was formed in 1975. A complete set is available for reference in our Research Room in Bristol. Each issue aims to keep members up-to-date about events that may be taking place and presents regular features and a range of articles about family history and local history. On the Internet articles are reproduced here in the month of publication and My Parish articles are published 12-18 months after publication in the Journal.
Journals are distributed to members each quarter (June, September, December & March) and members who join part way through the membership year (which begins in April) are sent copies of past Journals for that year.
Most issues of the Society's Journal contain an article about recent family history developments on the internet. However, please note that links in older articles may no longer work.
Last time, I gave details of a new wills website and expressed the wish that it would be expanded to cover all wills from 1858. I must have been good in 2014, because my wish has come true, and you can now search for wills in Eng land & Wales from 1858 to the present day at https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills.
If you find poor law or census records indicate that members of your family spent time in the workhouse, Peter Higginbotham’s workhouse website at www.workhouses.org.uk provides details of each such institution together with a lot of general information about workhouse life. Peter has now produced a similar website for children’s homes at www.childrenshomes.org.uk . It is still a work in progress, and although many homes are listed (68 in Bristol, for example), only a percentage have full details. However, you will usually find a map, information about who ran the home, who attended and when, as well as a list published items about the running of the school.
The big news at the time of writing is the redesign of Findmypast (www.findmypast.co.uk). Although this had been announced in advance, no-one was prepared for the degree of change, or the poor execution which was immediately apparent. Favourite features had disappeared, and using the site required a totally different approach, which did not go well with users. The forums were full of complaints, with threats to cancel subscriptions and even to take legal action under the Trades Descriptions Act.
The centenary of the start of the First World War has brought a number of new releases of military records relating to this and other conflicts. Sometimes, there appears to be confusion in the publicity between war diaries, which are the official day by day records of individual service units, and those personal diaries kept by soldiers, sailors and others. Both have their individual value.
There is a lot to get through in this edition, so the details I can give will be a little briefer than usual.
The later nineteenth century is the simplest period to deal with for the family historian. The census shows the family unit, while the GRO records give us the details of individual lives. Ecclesiastical records provide an added source, as do wills, newspapers and military records.
We are all aware of Bristol’s role in the slave trade, and that many of the wealthy residents of our area made their fortunes from it. It is less well-known that, when slavery in the British Empire was made illegal in 1833, slave owners were compensated by the government for their loss. Some of the sums received were considerable.
Recent issues of the monthly family history magazines have been full of what the websites will be offering new in 2013. I don’t have the benefit of the press releases, so what you read here is what is available now.
First, some financial news. Ancestry, the family history website, has been sold for $1.6 billion (about £1 billion) to Permira, a European private equity fund. The Ancestry headquarters will remain in Provo, Utah, U.S., and the present senior executives of Ancestry will retain a financial interest, but this could lead to some interesting developments in the future.