Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Monty Don and ScotlandsPeople (WDYTYA)

I enjoyed the Monty Don edition of WDYTYA last night, though it was quite slow in parts. However, having just returned from the ScotlandsPeople Centre today, I've already heard people there ask how they can access the English censuses whilst there?!

In fact, you can look at them - each terminal of the new ScotlandsPeople computer system allows access to sites such as FindmyPast, Ancestry etc. However - there's a BUT! - you need to have your own subscription to the sites. So it can be done, but it is not included in your £10 subscription, only the access to the interent is (and that is also restricted only to certain genealogy sites).

The really big question mark though, is how did they get an English birth certificate?! lol Just to clarify - they come from England! You can however, view the indexes for English and Welsh records on microfilm, and there is a database of Northern Irish births from 1922 to the 1990s in the Dundas Room also.

In television terms, it's known as a fudge...! :)


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Maxwell Ancestry said...

My thought’s entirety Chris! Don’t get me wrong it’s a great bit of television but not very helpful to novices. What I thought was particularly funny was the fact that they didn’t show any of the really great things you can do at the Scotland’s people centre and of course the National Archives.

Chris Paton said...

And it doesn't help that they actually called it the National Archives - it isn't, it's the ScotlandsPeople Centre - in General Register House! NAS is a whole different floor!

Now I'm being a pedant...! lol


Anonymous said...

I was struck by the perceptive last comments of being a Scot in exile, by Monty. "...This sadness, my Granny who belonged to Scotland but was in exile and this sense that, that is part of being Scottish: this sense of homeland and not being there, yearning...You can't feel Scottish without feeling this loss."
As a Scot also in exile it rang a few bells.


Mark said...


Your comment about not being able to access the English census from NAS struck a cord with me.

The National Archives in Kew provide free onsite access to all the England & Wales census data through a link to FindMyPast, Ancestry et al. No doubt as part of their agreement to allow the commercial exploitation of these records.

It strikes me, it would be beneficial to all if the National Archives and NAS had an arrangement that images from both institutions would be available at both sites.

This is fairly simple to do. In the easiest instance, 5 or so computers could have a VPN link to the other archive, or integrate it as they do with each other in the same way that external web sites such as FindMyPast and Ancestry are.

Given the closeness of the two countries it seems it would benefit all concerned. I have suggested it to the National Archives, but try finding the right person who can actually do something is the problem!

Chris Paton said...

Hi Mark,

Wouldn't it be great! I suspect (and this is a guess on my part), that free access to Scottish material at TNA would be a potentially large amount of revenue for the centre to lose, compared to the situation the other way around, i.e. Scots using English censuses for free in Edinburgh. Having said that, several family history centres across Scotland are soon to hook up to the SP computer system and charge something like a tenner for a day's access (or whatever they fix the price at), similar to the SP set up. You'd wonder if TNA could be designated as just another one of those centres and hook up to the system also?! I'm sure there's all sorts of agreements and caveats embedded in every contract both institutions have ever made, so probably pie in the sky!