Fam­ily His­tory on the Net 2015/16

By Colin Wa­ters

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - THE GUIDE -

(Coun­try­side Books, 160 pages, £9.95) Sisy­phus push­ing his boul­der.der Hold­ing wa­ter in your hands. Ask­ing a three-year-old to sit still. Such im­pos­si­ble tasks come to mind when sur­vey­ing Fam­ily His­tory on the Net. That’s not meant as a crit­i­cism, more a heart­felt mes­sage of sym­pa­thy to the book’s au­thor. As a long-time com­piler of this mag­a­zine’s Best Web­sites col­umn, I know only too well the dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting the in­ter­net to be­have and sit still long enough to cre­ate a use­ful work of ref­er­ence.

The book is a com­pi­la­tion of web ad­dresses both well-known and ob­scure, or­gan­ised by sub­ject. Each en­try in­cludes the ad­dress, fol­lowed by a brief ex­pla­na­tion. This new edi­tion iss im­proved and eex­panded, with new sites added, oldd ones checked andd amended, and gone are those pesk y ‘ http://’ pre­fixxes, mak­ing it mucch neater. The bookbo leads to some po­ten­tially use­ful back­wa­ters un­likely to ap­pear near the top of the av­er­age Google search. Browse Oc­cu­pa­tions, for ex­am­ple, and you’ll find death in­dexes to Aus­tralian un­der­tak­ers and a list of Bris­tol-based pho­tog­ra­phers work­ing be­tween 1852 and 1972.

If you re­ally try you can find ar­eas to crit­i­cise: an outof-date ad­dress here, a sub­ject war­rant­ing more en­tries there. But no one could distill the in­ter­net into one per­fect printed tome. As a sim­ple aide-mem­oire, it’s a job well done.

Jonathan Scott is a writer

spe­cial­is­ing in ge­neal­ogy

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