Here you will find reports on our projects, and an appeal for more volunteers to help!
At one extreme, a Society project could be something undertaken by an individual, occasionally almost outside the aegis of the Society’s mainstream work, who has tackled a project simply because he or she could see an immediate need for something to be done.
Next in the spectrum are the 'two-people projects', often undertaken by married couples. Examples of the work of these are the Indexes to the Bristol Royal Infirmary In-Patients Records, the Indexes to Ships' Crews Lists and the Tithe Apportionments.
In the middle of the spectrum are the 'team projects' which involve small or large groups of Society members, working on projects which have usually been selected and directed by the Society’s Committee. Such projects have normally been to do with the most commonly-used record sources such as baptisms, marriages and burials. However, there are occasions when projects are instigated by other agencies, such as Bristol Archives or some national institution.
At the other end of the spectrum are projects which, in theory, involve the whole Society and the most obvious example of this is the Members' Surname Interests.
Where and How do they help?
The various projects have differed widely in terms of the methods and procedures adopted. Some require the volunteers to visit depositories such as the Bristol Archives or the Bristol Reference Library where they carry out the transcription of the records. The resulting transcripts are then distributed to members of the Society for processing and the exact method by which this stage is achieved has changed dramatically over the years.
Many of these projects were started well before computers were as generally available and powerful as they are today. In the 'good old days', it was achieved manually, that is literally sorting by hand many thousands of strips of paper into alphabetical order and then typing all the information again in the new order.
The current procedure is quite different. The transcripts are distributed to computer owners, who key in the data, which is then printed out in the original chronological order. The transcripts are then taken back to Bristol Archives office and compared with the original source. This method maintains a check on the accuracy both of the original transcriber and of the computer keyboard operator. The corrections are then transferred from the corrected printout to the computerised data, and the data are then sorted alphabetically. The resulting indexes have been published in paper form, on microfiche or on CD.
In the case of some other projects, where the original records are available on microfiche, then either these microfiche themselves or print-outs from them are distributed to volunteers thus enabling them to work at home. This has the advantage of allowing computer owners to add directly from the copies of the original records onto their computers, thus removing the transcription stage completely.
Yet another sort of project may require the volunteers to leave the comforts of home, and even the relative comforts of the Bristol Archives office, to work in the ‘field’. The most obvious example is the Monumental Inscriptions Project so it might be more accurate to say 'in the graveyard, churchyard or cemetery'.
How can I help?
Progress on any given project will always be faster with more volunteers so the Society is always looking for new transcribers and typists.
If you have been considering helping with one of the Society projects, either by transcribing at Bristol Archives or other locations, or by undertaking typing onto a computer at home but have not yet got around to volunteering, either because of the gardening, or the grand-children, or some other worthy pastime, please act now and contact us! Your involvement will be welcome.
Enquire about volunteering with BAFHS
What projects have been or are being undertaken?
- The Avon Monumental Inscriptions Index
- The 1754 - 1837 Marriage Index for Avon
- The 1851 Census Index for Avon
- The Bristol & Avon Strays Index
- The BAFHS Members' Surnames Interests
- The 1881 Census Index for Avon
- The Apprenticeship Books Index 1592-2009
- The Bristol Royal Infirmary In-Patients Index 1751-1755
- The Baptism Index for the Parish of Bath Walcot St.Swithins 1813-1837
- The 1891 Census Index for (most of) Avon
- The Bristol Burgess Books Index 1557-1995
- Bristol Administration Bonds Index
- The Baptism Index for the Diocese of Bristol 1754-1837
- The Burial Index for the Diocese of Bristol 1754-1837
- Ships' Crews Lists Index for Selected Years 1863-1913
- Index to Tithe Apportionments Index in Bristol Archives
- Non-Conformist Baptism, Marriage and Burial Records held in Bristol Archives 1754-1837
- Miscellaneous Other Non-Conformist Records 1603–1837
- Marriage Index for Bristol Diocese (South Glos. parishes) 1837–1901
- Marriage Index for North Somerset parishes (Bath & Wells Diocese) 1754-1837
- Bristol Municipal Cemeteries Registers 1871–1991
A number of our volunteers have been assisting Bristol Register Office with the transcription of its collection of church registers, the information being loaded into a Council database with the intention of making the information available online.
A new project about to start in conjunction with Bristol Archives is the transcription and indexing of the Creed Registers of the Barton Regis, or Eastville, Workhouse.
All Society members are invited to submit details of the surnames in which they have a research interest for inclusion on the Society’s website. This also includes details of the locations (related to the Chapman codes) and time periods relevant to the names.
To supplement the information taken from Diocese of Bristol records, and for personal interest reasons, a number of volunteers undertook similar transcription work on a collection of Non-Conformist records held by Bristol Archives in order to provide a wider range of indexes available to researchers
A further team of volunteers worked at Bristol City Council’s main Cemeteries Department office at Canford Cemetery in Westbury-on-Trym in the early 2000s.
If a person who was born in the Avon area is located in another area through an event such as marriage, death, or counted in a census, their details may have been submitted for inclusion in the Strays Index.