FindMyPast website: Search Techniques Pt. 3 – Search By Record Set

FindMyPast search for any record set for the Boer War - result Anglo-Boer War
FindMyPast search for any record set for the Boer War – result Anglo-Boer War

FindMyPast Search by Record Set

This is the third post in a series about how to search on FindMyPast.

One of the major reasons for the change in search design was the ability to add databases and images to the collection and to have a standardized way of searching everything at once. Selecting the A-Z of Record Sets brings up a complete current listing of datasets. This is certainly growing as FindMyPast is in the midst of adding 100 datasets in 100 days campaign. These vary in size greatly but can still be added quickly and efficiently.

The first task is narrow down the options. The first way is to define your region – World; United States; United Kingdom; Australia & New Zealand; and Ireland. Even after this search there still likely to be multiple pages to read through. You can read through the list, you can search on a type of record or you can type in a locality (such as the name of a county).

FindMyPast search results for Mosley in Anglo-Boer War Dataset.
FindMyPast search results for Mosley in Anglo-Boer War Dataset.

In this case study I want to highlight what you can learn about the records. Here I am going to select the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902. Selecting the database brings up a search screen, showing the fields on which you can search. This time I am going to search of the surname Mosley. I am looking for Henry Samuel Mosley who served in the Veterinary Corps and was awarded medals during the war.

There are 19 Mosley’s, but no Henry or Samuel and of note no one from the Veterinary Corps. Interestingly, doing what I suggested in the last post, selecting surname variants produces 126 hits. One of those hits is a H.G. Moseley of the Army Veterinary Department who is on Roll 230. This record is a transcript so the original would need to be sought and checked to see if this is a transcription error or not. There is no image of the originals for this collection.

Let’s return to the search screen where when we scroll down the page we find important information about this record set.

FindMyPast - look for the contents and explanation of the contents of the dataset below the search screen
FindMyPast – look for the contents and explanation of the contents of the dataset below the search screen

What can these records tell me? Certainly the first time into any new set of records you should read this. You may also find it useful to read again after you have worked with and become more familiar the record content as you are more likely to appreciate the subtleties of what the information provided is telling you.

In this case study we have drop down menus for: Learn more about these records; Sources used to compile the register; and Details about the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902. The specifics will vary depending upon the record set. For this case study let’s examine the details a little closer.

Learn more about these records: Tells us that the dataset contains 271,771 names, with a completely revised casualty list of 59,000 records. The transcripts may provide: first name; last name; service number; unit(s); rank; regiment; memorials; medals (roll reference and possibly clasp entitlement) honours and awards; literary references; casualties.

Sources used to compile the register: Here is a list of the various sources used to create this compiled dataset. Only with more research will you become familiar with the different sources and what they do or do not provide, which is especially important if you do or do not find the person you are seeking in this dataset. As with any research the probability is high that there are additional sources to be found.

Details about the Anglo-Boer War Records 1899-1902: Here is explanatory information on the sources used to create the database and why it was compiled in the first place; why different and duplicate information can be found on the same soldier; why there are problems with place names and how they have been solved; why the database may change.

Useful Links and Resources: These links are to the upper right of the screen. In this case study it highlights the 1891 and 1901 census returns for England, obviously because many of the men included in the data set will be children or teenagers in the 1891 census, and may be absent, ready to leave, or have returned in time for the 1901 census.

Conclusion – Experiment with and practice with the different search options to find your ancestors. How you search should depend upon what information you are looking for. Importantly when you do find an ancestor, and probably more so when you don’t find an individual you are expecting to find in a given dataset, read the supporting descriptive material as it will explain what you have searched.

Good luck with your searching.

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