Following a six month hiatus in new posts on this blog, there is much that is new to talk about. The most important for researchers is the Pembrokeshire Record Office’s new on-line catalogue.
For one of the smaller record offices to have achieved this is a tour de force and an obvious boon for those of us who live far away from the office. We can plan our visits more efficiently and then use our time more effectively when there.
There are some strengths and weaknesses to the system. Firstly, the strengths:
- The interface is simple to use. However, do read the entries in “About the catalogue” and “How do I search the database” as these contain useful guidance on getting the most from this resource.
- One of the strengths of the record office’s existing paper-based catalogues is the large amount of information that entries contain. As these catalogues have been mostly scanned rather than re-keyed, this strength has been retained. This link provides an albeit extreme example of this – the original cataloguer was obviously taken by the wording to include a lengthy extract from one of the conditions of the lease.
(Whether you would have wanted Captain Child, father of at least four illegitimate children, to lecture your children on “such subjects as shall tend to do good to the minds and souls of those who may be present to hear him” is a matter for conjecture!)
While the technology used to scan the entries is a strength, it has provided a weakness. The date format used by various cataloguers over the years is not consistent so searches may not return entries in the order you would expect. This problem is gradually being addressed and it does not inhibit the system’s overall usefulness.
Like any new system you may encounter teething problems. If this happens, do let the record office staff know. Contact details are to the right of this page.
All in all this on-line catalogue is a great step forward for researchers into local and family history in Pembrokeshire opening up the vast array of source material the record office has.