"All in all, the London 1901 Census on CD-ROM (S&N Genealogy Supplies) is an excellent genealogy resource. It contains clear images of valuable original records used by genealogists, historians, and social scientists. 200,000 pages have been scanned and recorded onto CD-ROM disks. This set is a bargain"
If anyone ever gives awards for the heaviest box of CD-ROM disks in a genealogy product, S&N British Data Archive Ltd will win the prize. I wrote about the company's release of the Lancashire 1891 Census records in the June 17, 2002 edition of this newsletter.
I was impressed with the size of that set of disks: 30 CD-ROM disks. However, this week I opened a new and heavier box from S&N: the London 1901 Census. This newly released set of disks fills 45 (yes, count them... 45!) CDs.
Macintosh users will note that these CDs work on Macintosh systems as well as on Windows. I even tried them on one of my Linux systems, and the 1901 Census CDs appeared to work perfectly there, too.
NOTE: If you do use these disks on Linux, remember that S&N British Data Archive Ltd. doesn't support this. Please don't contact S&N to ask questions about Linux. And, whatever you do, please don't tell them, "Well, Dick Eastman said it would work!" OK?
Once you start looking at the data on these disks, you quickly realize why there are so many of them. This set contains 27 gigabytes of data, including 200,000 page images of original census records as recorded by the enumerators, along with area indexes. That is the equivalent of approximately 19,000 diskettes!
I would have to put an addition onto the house to store all of the 200,000 printed census pages that have been scanned and compressed into a 5 1/2-inch by 5 1/2-inch by 3 1/4-inch box that now easily sits on top of my PC.
Like most of the CD-ROM disks from the same company, the London 1901 Census disks are created with Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat Reader is included on Disk 1, with simple installation instructions in the enclosed user's manual. This little 8-page booklet provides an orientation to the CD set as well as helpful hints for effective
use of the Acrobat Reader. The user's manual recommends starting Acrobat first, then inserting a disk into your CD drive.
Once you have the Acrobat Reader running, you need to decide where you want to start your search for relatives; you need to know the street or area of their residence. Each CD covers a Registration District, divided into subdistricts. All districts and subdistricts are linked to indexes of their area (place, parish, or township) and street, included on each disk for the district(s) it covers. In addition, disk 45 includes a master index of all districts, as well as an alphabetized index of streets in high population areas which the Public Records Office produced originally for microfilm viewers.
The images on these CD-ROM disks were produced from microfilms of original records. In fact, the records on the CDs are numbered in the same manner as the microfilms. The area and street indexes refer the user to "film numbers" and those numbers are preserved on the CD-ROM disks.
The areas covered include Paddington, Kensington, Fulham, Chelsea, St George Hanover Square, Westminster, Marylebone, Hampstead, Pancras, Islington, Hackney, St Giles, Strand, Holborn, London City, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, St George in the East, Stepney, Mile End Old Town, Poplar, St Saviour, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Camberwell, Greenwich, Lewisham, and Woolwich.
These CDs do not include an index of person names. If you know the district, subdistrict, or street, locating the pages is fairly easy. On the other hand, you may not always know where your ancestors lived, and looking through the 200,000 pages of handwritten records on the CDs isn't practical. To narrow your search, you may want to use the index for the 1901 census that the Public Record Office has made available on a Web site at http://www.pro.gov.uk/. You could use the online index to find names and subdistricts, and then use the CDs to view the images. However, you also need to know that the Public Record Office's index has some problems. You can read more about the problems at http://www.rootsforum.com/archives/news0228.htm and at http://lists.rootsweb.com/index/intl/UK/UK-1901-CENSUS.html.
S&N British Data Archive Ltd. has started a Name Indexing Project with the intent of creating a higher-quality index than the PRO online version. The company urges everyone researching this area to use an Excel spreadsheet and WordPad document (both included on Disk 45) to index the subdistricts each user is interested in. The spreadsheets then should be sent to the company, preferably by e-mail. In order to avoid duplication of effort, a Web page has been created of "who is indexing which subdistricts." Full details are in the user's manual.
The quality of the images on the CD-ROM version appears to be much better than the images on the Public Record Office's Web site. The CD version's images have been digitally enhanced and filtered to make the release as compact and clear as possible. Almost all the images that I looked at were crystal clear, much better than those I have seen on the Public Record Office's site. S&N has two sample pages available online that you can see for yourself. Look at the following examples:-
RG13-0020 Page 1 and RG13-0020 Page 2 (You must have the free Adobe Acrobat program installed to view those pages). Note how you can zoom in and out easily and move the images around. You can do the same with the CD-ROM version as you are using the same software (Acrobat) to view those images as well. I doubt if S&N "hand picked" their best pages for use on the Web; most of the pages on CD-ROM that I saw were of the same quality as the two samples shown on S&N's Web site.
British copyright laws are a bit different from American laws. Census records in the U.K. are not public domain, and the republishing of census information is regulated. S&N British Data Archive Ltd. sells these CD-ROM disks under license from the Public Record Office. The CDs include a license for personal research, private study, or education. Images may not be copied and republished elsewhere. Use in a library requires a separate license, available from S&N.
The London 1901 Census CD-ROM set sells for £59.95 ($93.75 in U.S. funds) plus shipping. If you plan to spend quite a bit of time with 1901 London census records, £59.95 will be cheaper than using the online version. The CD-ROM version is also faster and easier to use and has better images than the online version.
All in all, the London 1901 Census on CD-ROM is an excellent genealogy resource. It contains clear images of valuable original records used by genealogists, historians, and social scientists. 200,000 pages have been scanned and recorded onto CD-ROM disks. This set is a bargain at only £1.33 ($2.08 U.S.) per disk.
Keep in mind that anyone outside of the U.K. can order these disks online by using a credit card; there is no need to convert local currency into pounds. For more information about the London 1901 Census Records on CD-ROM, look at S&N British Data Archive Ltd.'s online catalog at www.BritishDataArchive.com Details about this set of 45 CD-ROM disks can be found at www.GenealogySupplies.com
The CD-ROM version is faster and easier to use and has better images than the online version. All in all, the London 1901 Census on CD-ROM is an excellent genealogy resource. It contains clear images of valuable original records used by genealogists, historians, and social scientists. 200,000 pages have been scanned and recorded onto CD-ROM disks. This set is a bargain at only £1.33 ($2.08 U.S.) per disk.