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to the county they serve, have the local knowledge * Working with spreadsheets and databases for
often necessary for searching the records and, as sorting information
many records will be on microfilm, the equipment to
view and copy. Particularly useful will be their collec- * Rapid correspondence between friends,
tions of, sometimes original, parish records. researchers, libraries, archives etc by email
The National Archives
* Accessing the Internet
The National Archives (formerly The Public
Record Office), Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Sur- * Searching on-line databases, archives etc.
rey, TW9 4DU holds a vast quantity of Government
records for the whole of the UK, covering areas such * Subscribing to Newsgroups and Lists which
as Admiralty, Army, Maps, etc. Unless you live locally, provide group discussions on local history,
you would not expect to have to consult records here metal detecting and almost any other topic
frequently but nevertheless, a visit is well-worth con- under the sun
sidering if you require information, for example, on
far-flung areas or military campaigns. * Searching for information on anything
* Setting up a web site to promote your research
When using many research facilities it will be nec- or your hobby
essary to book time on equipment, and you will need
to know what it is you want to do while you are there. * Purchasing of books and almost anything else
I would suggest you phone or email the relevant
organisation a week or so before you want to visit,
and ask whether they have the material you want to
look at, what format it comes in, and whether you
need to book equipment. Also, enquire whether you
Search Engines
need a reader’s ticket - usually fairly easy to obtain
but you will need identification and possibly a pass- Since the Internet is made up of thousands of
port size photograph or two. “sites” or “libraries” holding millions of “web pages”,
to find information unaided would be near impossi-
ble. Luckily, there is a fantastic tool called a search
engine that allows you to type in “keywords” for the
information you want to find and then in a few sec-
onds comes back with a list of relevant web pages and
links to take you there.
The largest library in the world is the Internet and
while you may struggle to access local items for free, The web pages will be presented in the search
it is absolutely brilliant for maps and for tracking engine’s idea of descending order of relevance and
down books or atlases for research. you will have to sift through the list to find what you
Try or want. The more you use the search engines the better
you become at defining your needs and the better the
You do have to buy the books but even so, if you results returned. There are lots and lots of search
are serious about researching sites then it is far better engines but I consider three to be particularly useful:
to have your own copies of material you refer to often.
If you are not on the Internet at home you needn’t be Google ( has become the search
excluded as you can gain access at your local library or engine because, unlike many engines, Google is not
Internet Café. only a “meta search engine”- in itself searching mul-
tiple search engines - but searches whole pages, not
While it is perfectly possible to carry out local just the “headlines”and returns a quote from the page
detecting research without using a computer at all, containing the word(s) you entered. You won’t go far
computers offer the advantage of speeding up the wrong if you just use Google for all your searches.
process greatly.
Dogpile ( is also a meta search
The main tasks you can accomplish are:- engine and will return results similar to Google. It can
also be quickly set to present the results by named
* Organising your information and producing search engine. The advantage of this is that search
reports engines can be fairly specific on the type of pages they
search and knowing which search engines are return-
* Word processing for letter writing etc ing the best results enables you to select the most
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