Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" site is moving into Archive Mode

The shelves contain books on town & villages
The boxes are post cards, etc
The filing cabinets contain magazines, papers and notes
Old age (mine and the computer software) means that the Genealogy in Hertfordshire site cannot continue to  expand indefinitely. Having taken a few months break from actively running the web site to think things over the big problem I face is not the online system but the future of the back-up collection of Hertfordshire material that I have accumulated to support it. I have been reminded that when a local historian died some years ago the first other historians knew what was going to happen to his collection was when there was a bonfire in his garden!!!

My collection occupies three walls of one "bedroom" (see pictures) and there are overflow bookcases in the living room, two other bedrooms, and on the upstairs landing. I also have extensive papers relating to my earlier research into human-friendly computers in the garage. To be realistic I have to plan to downsize, especially as the material is not organised in a way that makes sorting it out easy.

Top Shelf - St Albans
Middle shelf - General Hertfordshire
Bottom Shelf - Dacorum (excluding Tring)

[Tring books occupy most of the shelf below]
Far Shelves - Series & general local/genealogy books
Basically I need to prioritize the material in my Hertfordshire collection, highlighting the following categories which need safeguarding.
  1. Material the family may want to keep - with items properly identified with names and origins.
  2. Unique photographs and documents that should end up in a permanent archive.
  3. Unpublished research notes (on paper and on the computer but not yet online)
  4. The basic core of published book, maps, engravings and postcards (i.e material that is almost certainly available through the Herts Archives and Library Service.)
  5. Duplicate material, etc., which can be usefully be disposed of immediately on eBay or via a local charity shop.
The priority, at least until Christmas, will simply be going through the material and sorting it into categories to ensure that everything is properly identified. However I will not forget the web site. The process of sorting through the material will turn up much information which had been intended to go online but never made it. What I will try and do is selectively use such material to make one or two updates to the web site a week -  using the opportunity to upgrade pictures and check any external links. Brief details of such updates will be in this newsletter, starting in a day or two.

In updating the web site for archive purposes it is useful to give some brief statistics. The off-line master copy consists of 20,773 files of which 5,633 are text files, the rest being pictures. Of this total 18,278 files (1,431,198,000 bytes) are accessible online directly or indirectly from the home page. Many of the rest are draft pages and pictures which have yet to make it online! There are also 7,299 links to external web sites - and quite a few of these have wilted due to old age and no longer reach their intended target.

Clearly I don't have time to sort out all the problems at once but there are ways in which visitors to the site can help, For instance if you know of any significant online sources of information (say a local history web site or an online copy of a book on Hertfordshire) that is not mentioned on my site this could be useful - so I don't waste time duplicating information readily available elsewhere. In addition my time will be saved if you spot any broken links or other errors.


  1. I am sorry to hear that you need to move to archive only, but understand your decision. I will email you directly to see if I can help find a solution. Jonty Wild

  2. Thanks to everyone who has contacted me as a result of the above post to suggest ways forward - and possible future locations for material currently in my private library. If you have any ideas please do not hesitate to contact me.

  3. I have found this Hertfordshire site fascinating and extremely useful over the years. I hope it will continue to be available on line (albeit in archive form). However if you propose to make the information available in disc format for future reference I would be pleased to purchase a copy. Hence perpetuating the archive - it would be nice to think it would be available in libraries etc. as well
    Norman Lucey of Rickmansworth

    1. I hope it will be possible to ensure a permanent place online (perhaps through the HALS web site??) - the problem with a CD is that it is already far to big to fit on one!

  4. Hi, have you considered authorising "The Wayback Machine" to archive your website? ( It would be such a shame if it disappeared.

    1. Clearly the Wayback machine has its uses - As a result of your comment I have published a new blog going into some detail -


This is the newsletter for the Genealogy in Hertfordshire Web site. Comments on this blog are moderated and may be transferred to the web site where appropriate. If you have a local or family history query you want answered you must use "Ask Chris" - See box in right hand column. Anonymous comments cannot be answered.