Monday, 1 October 2012

The Original Record slightly improves search options

The Original Record website, one of the more expensive and complicated data sites online, has introduced some new flexibility into its searches, if not its prices. From the company:

We have added a section entitled Sources, on our home page at; just scroll down. Here all the sources surname-indexed on the site are listed decade by decade. So it is now possible:
  • To see at a glance descriptions of the records indexed year by year. Using control+F you can search through the descriptions for placenames and other words of interest.
  • To search individual records for whatever surnames are of interest to you. This is a powerful additional tool, allowing you to search out possible variant spellings, by using wildcards, in any particular index.

Comment - In a lot of cases, I suspect a search is still going to be an expensive stab in the dark, unless you have a really unusual or rare surname. To give an example, I typed in Smith for the period 1880-1890. If I had an ancestor called Smith who lived in Macclesfield, I am presented with six different options for a 'Voters in Macclesfield' list from 1879-1880. If I know he lived in Hurdsfield Ward, there is only one result there, so possibly worth a punt at £6. If I don't know which ward, however, I will have to pay £36 to see all six returns - and there is no guarantee that he is even included. I can't in any way narrow down the search criteria further, other than by surname variants. On the other hand, if I know my man Smith went to Clifton College in 1880, there is only one result there at £4, so almost certainly him, and at least worth a shot. So likely success from the site will depend on how rare the name is and how specific the collection is.

One plus in the site's favour - it does have some wonderfully interesting collections, much of which I suspect you would never see on a site such as Ancestry. Those doing one-name studies will likely fare better, as you can buy entire datasets for a particular name, as 'surname source books'.


Scottish Research Online - 5 weeks online Pharos course, £45.99, taught by Chris Paton from 26 SEP 2012 - see
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

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