Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Location, Location, Location; with LINKS
This week I've been working "Locations" - a feature of my genealogy software. It is a list of all the place names in my data base. High-lighting a name in the left column will pinpoint it on a map in the center. Corrections and changes can be made to the edit window in the right column. It will tag any place not found in its extensive memory and so it works as an error report for place names. Tags will be caused by anything from a misplaced comma to spelling errors to place names not found in any atlas, map or gazetteer.
When the place name is from the Early Middle Ages, it may take some determined hunting to find it, changed spelling being only one challenge to a successful hunt. Here is a list of my most frequently used aids to locating a small, obscure or no longer extant place, including private manors and towns that have renamed themselves.
A Vision of Britain through Time - "A vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001. Including maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions." Many of the descriptions include the surnames of families who historically were holders of the local manor, demesne, or castle, and more recent changes in ownership. When unsure of which county is meant when the town of record has a common name, such details are vital clues.
Wikipedia - Often includes the surnames of nobility associated with a particular town, may add details about the ancestors buried in the local historical church, and details the lives of the more prominent individuals, including where they held property. Most of these articles are well documented with scholarly foot notes, and often include pictures that may be reproduced. So many links, so little time.
British History Online - "British History Online is the digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles. Created by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament Trust, we aim to support academic and personal users around the world in their learning, teaching and research." Offers Full Text Search.
GENUKI - United Kingdom and Ireland Genealogy. "GENUKI provides a virtual reference library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland. It is a non-commercial service, maintained by a charitable trust and a group of volunteers." Offers Site Search and Gazetteer.
Parishmouse - Offers a separate data bases for Wales and England by county: "Parishmouse contains free transcriptions of historical books and parish registers for England and Wales and a large collection of photos of churches and graves and illustrations from the old books." While I less frequently find what I seek here, the occasional hit is often a virtual goldmine.
Google - When I have searched all the above and still not found any proof that a place in my family tree ever existed, I will turn to Google. I do not consider finding the place name in other online genealogies proof, however Google sometimes will come up with a travel description of an obscure village in Cornwall or Wales, etc. which will provide a wonderful "Aha!" moment.
Once I have found a description and location of my long-ago family's residences, I like to include in my records a note on how the spelling has changed, whether it is a Manor and not a town, and other quirks. This way I can find it again later, and so can others who may look at my research. Being able to resolve the tags on my questionable place names is a bonus.