Here you will find progress reports on our projects, and importantly an appeal for more volunteers to help with them!

Who helps?

At one extreme, a Society Project could be something undertaken by an individual member of the Society, almost outside the aegis of the Society, who has tackled a project simply because he or she could see an immediate need for something to be done.  Very much in this category is the sterling work of Jane Baker, who has produced many indexes and finding aids, almost single-handedly.

Next in the spectrum are the 'married couple Projects', and examples which immediately spring to mind include Gordon and Barbara Faulkner's Indexes to the Bristol Royal Infirmary In-Patients Records and Apprenticeship Books (the latter in partnership with Margaret McGregor of the BRO), and Ken and Megan Edwards Indexes to Ships' Crews Lists and 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 are directed, by the Society Committee.  Such projects are probably the most common, as you will be able to determine for yourself from the list provided below.  However, there are occasions when projects are instigated by other agencies, such as the personnel of the Bristol Record Office, 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 type of Project is the Members' Interests.

Where and How do they help?

The various projects also differ widely in terms of the methods and procedures adopted.  Some require the volunteers to visit archive depositories such as the Bristol Record Office or the Bristol Reference Library, or indeed other such places, where they carry out the transcription of the records.  The resulting transcripts are then distributed to other members of the Society (or even some of the same members) for sorting alphabetically.  The exact method by which this stage is achieved has changed dramatically over the years.  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. Before all you hi-tech readers gasp incredulously, please remember that many of these projects were started well before computers were as generally available and powerful as they are today.  The current procedure is quite different.  The transcripts are distributed to computer owners, who type in the data, which is then printed out in the original chronological order.  The typed 'transcripts' are then taken back to the Record Office and compared with the original source.  This method maintains a check on the accuracy both of the original transcriber and of the computer key-board operator.  The corrections are then transferred from the corrected printout to the computerised data, and the data are then sorted alphabetically, and the resulting indexes are published, in paper form, or on microfiche, or, more recently still, on CDROM.

In the case of some other projects, where the original records are available on microfiche, then either these microfiche themselves, or print-out from them, are distributed to volunteers thus enabling them to work at home.  This has the added advantage of allowing computer owners to type 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 Record Office, to work 'in the field'.  Since the most obvious example is the Monumental Inscriptions Project, 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, and so the Society is always looking for fresh transcribers and typists.  If you have been considering helping with one of the Society projects, either by transcribing at the BRO, or by undertaking the typing onto 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!  Please e-mail or write to the Project Co-ordinator

Bristol & Gloucestershire Parish Register Transcriptions

We have completed a pilot project to transcribe the parish registers for the Bristol and Gloucestershire dioceses and make them available online. The project is a joint undertaking with Gloucestershire Record Office, Bristol Record Office and Gloucestershire Family History Society.  Unfortunately the lottery bid to fund the project was rejected, consequently the project is now on hold and we will not be needing further volunteers for the moment.  

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 B&AFHS Members' Interests
  • The 1841, 1861 and 1871 Census Indexes for Bristol
  • The 1881 Census Index for Avon
  • The Apprenticeship Books Index
  • The Bristol Royal Infirmary In-Patients Index
  • The Baptism Index for the Parish of Bath Walcot St.Swithins
  • The 1891 Census Index for (most of) Avon
  • The Bristol Burgess Books Index
  • Bristol Administration Bonds Index
  • The Baptism Index for the Diocese of Bristol
  • The Burial Index for the Diocese of Bristol
  • Ships' Crews Lists Index
  • Tithe Apportionments Index