DEVON-L Archives

Archiver > DEVON > 1999-02 > 0918691875

From: Brian Randell <>
Subject: Parish History Indexing
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 00:11:15 GMT


I have already had four offers responding to my request a week ago for
volunteers who would be willing to produce, in order to have available on
the Web, full surname indexes to Devon-related books such as parish

The four books, and their indexers are:

"Ashburton, The Dartmoor Town" by Francis Pilkington - John Yolland

"A history of the parish of Aveton-Giffard", by C.C. Shaw - Chris Burgoyne

"Widecombe-in-the-Moor", by Stephen H. Woods - Judith

"West-Country Poets : their lives and works", by W.H.Kearley Wright -
Linda Cross

Needless to say, I look forward to receiving more such offers!

For those of you who missed it, a copy of my original message is attached


Brian Randell



Prompted by what I've seen happening on another county mailing list
(DYFED-L), could I encourage any subscribers to this list who possess, or
have ready access to, interesting Devon-related books, in particular parish
histories, that name lots of individuals yet have inadequate indexes, to
consider making their own fully-detailed indexes to the books. Such indexes
could then be put on the web (I can provide Web space in GENUKI/Devon if
necessary) - perhaps accompanied by an offer to answer emailed queries
concerning particular names that appear in an index. (However, even without
such an offer, simply making an index available online, together with a
full bibliographic citation for the book on which it was based, would be a
very useful contribution to your fellow genealogists.)

I have provided some such indexes in GENUKI/Devon already - see for example:

(Note that the Devon Search facility associated with GENUKI/Devon covers
all such indexes, and its many other transcriptions and descriptive pages.)

The technique I have used is quite simple, and made use of Microsoft WORD.
I have gone through the book to be indexed, typing in the names as I came
to them, though often economising on typing through the use of copy and
paste, and inserting a page break as I came to the end of each page. (The
fact that WORD displays the current page number makes it easy to check that
one has not got out of step.) I then did a global edit (i.e. used "Replace
All") to add to each name the tag that WORD would have added had I used the
"Insert Index Entry" Command on each name entry. Then all I had to do was
use WORD's "Insert Index" command - and a neatly formatted index, with
multiple citations of the same name on different pages all brought
together, was generated automatically. (Such an indexing task does not take
long, but it might be worth announcing one's intention to index a
particular book beforehand, to avoid duplicated effort.)

No doubt there are other perhaps better ways of making such indexes.
However, less important than debating how best to create indexes is the
idea of getting on and building up a large set of them. There are now close
to a thousand subscribers to DEVON-L. Just imagine if everyone produced
just one such index, from a book that they possess or have borrowed from a
library for the purpose! (I have not counted up the number of books that
listed in the GENUKI/Devon pages but I would guess that it is a couple of
thousand or so by now, so there are plenty for you to choose from - though
the obvious thing to do is to choose a book that you have found
particularly useful in your own personal researches.) The resulting
resource would be unmatched, since no such collection of indexes exists
anywhere to my knowledge - even in the Westcountry Studies Library in
Exeter, with its marvellous Burnett-Morris Index.


Brian Randell

Dept. of Computing Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne,
EMAIL = PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232 URL =

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