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Special Collections in FMP

Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:50 pm

One of the very useful aspects of a web-site is when you get several datasets (or collections or whatever you want to call them) bundled together for one locality or topic. FindMyPast, for instance, bundles together a series of record sets for several counties - the Cheshire Collection, the Staffordshire Collection, etc. These were referred to as Special Collections. Knowing what was in each Special Collection helped users see the potential of the record sets.

Originally the list of Special Collections and their contents was accessible from one of the front screens. Well, FMP have just done a minor revamp and that list has, too all intents and purposes, vanished.

I submitted a support query asking what had happened to them and got the response:

It's certainly true that link brings up a page headed "Special collections". However, as I responded to them in turn:
    Thank you for the link, which I shall keep. However - this somewhat misses the point. How on earth is anyone supposed to find this list of special collections?

    The issue that FMP has, and has had since the 2014 revamp, is not so much the content as navigating a way through it. Or knowing that there is something there to look for.

    Originally this list of collections was accessible from the initial search screen of a UK subs. No more. If this list cannot be found, then it is pointless.

So - here's the link if you want it. If anyone can find a way to access that list through the menu system (I can't - I can only access it via the link) then please let us all know. It could be that I'm missing an obvious link in which case I shall retire red-faced. (I'm on a UK only subs, by the way)

In the meantime, this feels like the response from the Vogon Constructor Fleet in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - the proposal to demolish the Earth was there - the fact that it was hidden away in the basement of an interstellar office block, didn't seem to matter. :x

Re: Special Collections in FMP

Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:38 pm


It may be that I'm not understanding you but I've just gone into FMP and typed 'Devon' in 'Search A-Z of record sets' and got a list of all they have for Devon. It works for Cheshire and Staffordshire as well. Is that what you have been trying to find?


Re: Special Collections in FMP

Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:18 pm

No - finding stuff through the A-Z is not the issue. I can easily find stuff whose name includes "Cheshire" say. What has been lost - unless you use the magic link - is the list of Special Collections and the list of data sets within each. It is by no means certain that a data set name will include the county - indeed some of the Cheshire ones originally didn't as they were labelled with the diocese name, not the county. Finding those through the A-Z can be tricky if you don't know what to search for.

Another potential issue is that if you are used to finding baptisms (say) in the Staffordshire Collection, you might just use the A-Z to find the Cheshire baptism PRs and think you've got it all, whereas the Special Collection list reveals that there are also Bishop's Transcripts and Workhouse (I think) baptisms.

If you didn't use the Special Collection lists, you won't miss them but if you did use them as an aide memoire to what was available, the hiding of the link is annoying. And hides their assets.

Sent from my GT-I8190N

Re: Special Collections in FMP

Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:55 pm

Thank you Adrian! We have noticed this same problem with the British India collections. When I told one of my colleagues that I simply searched in UK, India (as opposed to 'World), they in turn informed me that search results would not include certain categories of records - though I don't see the ones they mentioned in the list on the link anyway. Nevertheless, shall take this discussion further with them. Thanks again. Sylvia

PS: FMP's news and/or blog pages don't appear to be optimised for viewing in all browsers (use Firefox on a Win8 platform) as I see masses of white space and have to scroll down a lot or to the right to view the item. Actual records appear as normal.
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