Saturday, February 1, 2014

Month End Report for January 2014

On the technical side everything went smoothly in January. The web site had 23,262 visitors in the month, about average compared with the previous four years. The Newsletter had 27 new posts and 6,420 page views - which works out at just over 210  page views a day. Computer changes at this end will mean, in the short term, that the site will continue to be updated on Frontpage under Windows XP, while non-genealogy work is being moved onto a new system running Windows 8. It has been decided to resume posting a one line summary of future posts on twitter @HertsGenealogy to alert more people to future updates.

Help Desk
The new wording of the "Ask Chris" page I introduced in 2013 is working. I still get people who like sending queries without stopping to look to see if their question is relevant to the web site. However I now have a simple and effective reply which only takes me a minute or two - as all I need to do is to send them a copy of the letter they have already seen with the relevant sentences highlighted. One I had this month gave me a laugh as (if I took it literally) I was being asked about someone with a Norman French name whose only connection with Hertfordshire was that they were living in the United States in the 12th century!
Book Reviews
       More typical is one I got who wanted a copy of a picture which was part of a photo-montage on the cover of the book "100 Years - A History of Schools Football in St Albans." What appears to have happened is that they had a copy of the book and wanted to contact the authors. Of course a trivial Google search would have shown them one was still a school teacher in St Albans. However as soon as they found a review of the book they decided to ask the reviewer, rather than continuing the search for the author!
       But of course I also get many very useful messages. For example :
An anonymous comment about the Watford photographer called Lemenager, who went to the United States in 1887, has alerted me to the fate of some of his family, who died in a fire in a theatre in Chicago in 1903.
      My post about Joseph Hunt who was involved in the Weare Murder has resulted in Lesley writing to say the Hunt family came from Calcutta (and by implication had no connection with Hertfordshire beyond the murder) and I have passed the information on to Francis.

Post Cards
Dates of posting are not always a good guide to the date of publication for a postcard. During the month a card of Westmill, posted in 1980 was sold on ebay. The card had been published  by R H Clark of Royston circa 1920, and the shop (now R.H.Clarke & Son)  was obviously using up old stock to send messages to customers.
     I have corrected a couple of transcription errors on the cards kindly provided by Peter of the London Scottish at North Mimms.
St Michaels, by Sydbie
     Another post card has turned up by the artist "Sydbie", this one showing the ford over the River Ver at St Michaels, but unfortunately we still do not know who he was.
St Michaels & All Saints, Watford
      I have posted a 1931 Valentine post card of St Michael's, Watford, showing it after the tower was built - the only problem is that the angle of the shot means that only the top few feet of the tower can be seen!
     Edward is researching the artist Charles Essenhigh Corke (1852-1922) and is interested in the cards of Caldecote Towers, Aldenham. If anyone has copies of these cards and can provide a posting date that would be very helpful.
      In the background I have re-organised my Hertfordshire postcard collection so that virtually all the cards are filed under the relevant place names but I still need to go through the nine shoe boxes full, looking at each place - catching up on the backlog of cards which I want to post online, weeding out the duplicates, etc. In the case of some of the rarest cards I am looking into the possibility of donating them to an official archive. The real problem is that I have not been able to resist scanning ebay for cards and other items which could make a contribution to this site. This takes over half and hour a day and my New Year resolution to cut back on purchases has totally collapsed - so the queue of items waiting to appear on the web site is now longer than ever. My plans to sell unwanted items on ebay to pay for the purchases has not worked because I haven't had time to put items up for sale - and I regret to say that The London Gunners come to Town is finally "out of print" so there will be no more income from that source.
     I have also spent some time on other, behind the scenes correspondence, relating to subjects such as arbele trees (no new information yet), online archives of a local village newsletter, exhibits for an exhibition relating to Sandridge900, and items which have come up for sale on ebay which should really be in a publicly accessible archive - but which I cannot afford to "rescue". I have also sent off a cheque to rejoin the SAHAAS (St Albans and Hertfordshire Architecture and Archaeology Society) as so much of what I do relates to the area around St Albans.
Trapped by the Box
     One area where one of my New Years Resolution appears to be working is that I have been much more active on my other blog, Trapped by the Box, and some research I am doing related to the evolution of human intelligence.
      This all means that some of the things I had hoped to do, such as more work on William Brown's account book and revamping the military pages in time for the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, has not been done. I have also not been getting as much Rural Relaxation as I need in order to keep fit - although the exceptionally wet weather we have been having is my excuse,
       To end on a lighter note - you will have noticed that my interest in Limericks has been rekindled - and I have actually entered a limerick competition - so let me end on a light note, the first line being the given line in the competition.
A man was, alas, in the red
Having poured some paint over his head.
"So what can I do,
I intended shampoo,
And I wanted my hair clean instead."

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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.