Hints re British Newspaper Archives website. (General)

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Tuesday, May 08, 2012, 04:55 (2773 days ago) @ SUE LAWTON

Thanks Sue.

Just to reiterate this does seem an excellent site, in general I share "Rook"s views and thanks again sir for highlighting the site.

In my opinion the subscription costs are quite high, so rather than subscribe and then use it on an occasional "as & when" basis and run-up perhaps a few months' subs expenses, I've decided to prepare in advance by doing as many searches as I can think of for all my various lines of research BEFORE I subscribe.
I may not have a lot of cash but I do have the time to methodically trawl the site, so I have deliberately not been overspecific wrt the site's search engine filters.

I have made many searches, often very time consuming trawling thro' literally hundreds of pages of vague "hits", and I've been carefully recording any successfull good results. Yes the site has a search engine but if, for example you're searching "Jones" in "Lydbrook" there are an awful lot of them, most unrelated !. Also like many search engines it's perhaps easy to forget to search for less-obvious items or names or places that are still actually relevant. So I use vague search terms such as just "Lydbrook" and see what came up. Also note it relies on the technology optically reading and transcribing the old and sometimes creased newspaper print, and will only give perfect matches so beware if searching unusual names, try searching spelling variations too. DON'T include say "Pte", for Private, when searching soldiers as the search will give many thousands of supposed matches but with ALL the "Pte"s regardless that you want "Pte Jones" not "Smith" etc, say.
By this method once I feel I have exhausted the site's resources, I will subscribe for the shortest time possible yet still obtain all the downloaded articles I require, as I will know exactly what to look for and where & when it happened.

Meanwhile and as "Rook" said earlier, I have still managed to find small but significant family references and clues from the snippets the website shows me. For example, while searching just one of my line's surnames, I have finally discovered the background of a lost ancestor who we knew died in France in WW1, I knew his name but still couldn't find his Records. We assumed he was a soldier in the British Army, yes he was in the trenches fighting like & alongside soldiers, but he was in Churchill's Royal Naval Divisions so his records are as a sailor !. I'm very interested in Military History but the whole story of the 1000s of trench-sailors in the RND was a new & interesting one to me. I found this out from a brief but poignant memorial "Notice" from his elderly mum in the Citizen some years later, it quoted "RND" !. This message also gave clues as to her whereabouts and age, as she had moved right off our radar.... as it was the only Notice she'd placed in 8 years of mourning, I guessed (correctly as it turned out) that maybe this was a clue that she was of failing health herself.

As with today's local rags it's a good site for finding sporting ancestors - I've found it particularly effective in discovering several generations of my mother's Wright family playing cricket for Longhope, just as my grandfather & uncle did. Many seasons-worth of their matches back to the mid 1800s including scorecards are there, as are the fundraising functions, end-of-season awards socials, AGMs and the like. In those days almost anything in a small village was newsworthy, including literally the likes of a child falling off a horse. If you have a policeman ancestor, they were very busy in this days ! Yes I've found a few small time rogues & villains too, only poaching nuts tho (honestly, guv). Probably the most newsworthy item in Longhope for many years was the long-running story regarding a "sensational murder" at the Nags Head pub in Longhope; fortunately this was half a century before my grandparents became landlords, thank heaven I never saw or heard about a ghost when I often stayed there in the 70s...

Enjoy, but be prepared to find a lost skeleton perhaps !

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