Christine Worthington | Jul 5, 2021, 12:28 PM

Our Volunteers: SoG Data Online Indexers

The indexing of the many fascinating name-rich resources in the SoG collections is helping to make our collections more useful to researchers.

We have 30 volunteers currently indexing materials that are digitised and available for perusal by members online. These name-rich resources include directories, parish records, poll books, monumental inscriptions and historical texts.

This indexing is carried out by Society members, as it requires the ability to log into the Society's website to access resources.

Members of the Society’s Digital Resources Team who scan at our Bookeye scanner and carry out scan checking will recognise these reference resources from the library, as these works are scanned and checked in-house.

In recent years there have been projects to open up access to particular sets of resources such as the Poll Books project, the 1831 Project (harnessing resources from a decade prior to the 1841 census), and the Percy Smith project (relating to British people in India).

At the moment there is an effort to draw together completed poll book indexes and prepare them for upload, and currently we're assigning monumental inscriptions records and burial records from parish registers.

Next on the agenda will be the christenings from the registers we have digitised.

Indexing for these resources is in some ways more straightforward than for the other indexing projects happening at present, because these are mainly printed and published resources that have already undergone a degree of editing. Usually abbreviations are conventional and there is relatively little by way of ambiguity around legibility, spelling and interpretation.

While these items are perusable online, and many of them have contents arranged alphabetically - indexing the people, places and dates in these items means they can be included in an overall search of SoG Data Online (via the purple box and the advanced search). The more SoG Data indexes are uploaded, the more likely it will be that researchers can turn up results they are interested in via the one search. Importantly, this purple box search may give a non-member an indication of whether they will find it useful to become a member to obtain access to the full resources.

When assigning these projects it can be useful to assign resources according to where the indexer lives – indexers may enjoy indexing resources local to them, and for the society it means taking advantage of local knowledge where possible. Compared to the GCI and Pedigree Rolls, these resources offer an opportunity to index a resource in which all entries are contextually related by community and/or place.

Here are some samples of some of these kinds of resources:

Title page of the poll book for the City of Chester for 1747.

A page from a handwritten book of monumental inscriptions in several church yards in the Blockley area of Worcestershire.

A page from The ancient sepulchral monuments of Essex.

The register of St Alphege Canterbury (also shown at the top of the page) records in 1558 an entry for the burial of 'A stranger w'ch did fall downe in the streete as he went, and his name was Raynolde' and an entry from 1559 'Barbara Brimston, weif unto Thomas Brimston w'ch died one childe birthe. Also on the same day was buryed her child with her, and his name was Ambrose Brimston'.

We're so grateful to our indexers who have worked hard to ensure that the people in our many name-rich digital resources will be much more easily findable by researchers in the future.

Part of a page from the parish register book of St Alphege Canterbury.

Notes and comments

Please contact Emma Jolly for more information about this article

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