Last week’s whinge about the National Archives Will Registers sub-site was just plain wrong. Everything that should be on the site is there, including the infamous Principal Registry Wills, 1891, G-M.
Stage 6 of New Source Syndrome is grovelling, shame-faced apology. Sorry.
The story of how I came to be so wrong and how I was corrected is instructive, though. I looked at the short blurb on the site, saw no mention of the surviving Principal Registry books, and spent a fruitless hour trying to find them. Scanning manually up and down the microfilm images for the title pages was equally frustrating. So I leapt to my conclusion.
Two morals: don’t be so quick to leap to conclusions, Boyo. And the search interface of the Archives site is pretty crude. No blame there: I know what the budget for the site was, precisely one brass farthing. And the deadline was the day before yesterday. The wonder is that they managed to get the material online at all.
I found out about my mistake from Brian Donovan, head of Business Development at FindMyPast.ie. He emailed me to point out that FMP had actually done all the digitisation for the National Archives, and supplied a link to Principal Registry Wills, 1891, G-M, free on their site.
Brian also pointed out that my exclusive focus on the National Archives’ own site was misplaced – all of the material released in the Great September Infodump and now at genealogy.nationalarchives.ie is also on FMP, completely free to search but with the benefit of their surname variant system and much more fine-grained search options. And Previous/Next buttons with all their images.
He is absolutely right. The interface at FMP is orders of magnitude superior to the Archives’ own, simply because FMP had time and budget. Any research I do in the future on these records will be via FMP.
An interesting sidelight is the question of why the versions of the records at FindMyPast haven’t got the attention they deserve. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy (though just because they’re paranoid doesn’t mean … )
FMP is a subscription site, and the working presumption – don’t be so quick with the presumptions either, Boyo – is that their records are behind a pay-wall. The free access they provide to the NAI records is just not promoted strongly enough, at least for me. – if you look at their list of record sources, there is no indication of which sources are free and which paying. And loads of them are free.
So I’m off to comb through them one by one. No gift-horse dentistry this time.