Sunday, 10 February 2008

Family Records Centre, Angel, London

I was back at the FRC yesterday transcribing yet more Fitzhenry and Fitz-Henry births marriages and deaths from the indexes.
It's the first time I've been there since the old book indexes were filed away (? for ever) and now all that are available are the scanned indexes on fiche, or the transcribed indexes on computer (incomplete, so for completeness every index volume has to be checked). It's a much slower process to systematically go through each year now and feels somehow like the soul has gone out of the search. The scans are not of the best quality either, so the index numbers are sometimes almost illegible. The thrill pulling the original indexes from the 1830's from the shelves and seeing your ancestor's name hand scribed on vellum was one of the things that made the connection to the past seem so real at the time. A new generation of family history researchers won't have that experience now.
Only one improvement over the old system - the fiches don't dirty your clothes like the big old leather bound indexes did, but that's small compensation.

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