Marc Bloch wrote that 'one of the most difficult tasks of, the historian is that of assembling those documents which he considers necessary' (1954: 69). We must include under 'assemble' not only the gathering of records into one place, but the further indexing and analysing of these records in such a way that they may more easily be used. Both these processes may appear to the non-historian to be fairly trivial matters, yet upon the methods of collecting and preparing the data for subsequent analysis will depend the whole success or failure of a project concerned with studying a particular community. As Bloch further remarked, 'to neglect to organize rationally what comes to us as raw material is in the long run only to deny time - hence, history itself' (1954: 147). Two things are absolutely essential. The first is that one has available as full, complete and exact a copy of all the records relating to the population being studied as possible. Without this, as stressed in the previous chapter, any attempt at a 'total' study is doomed. Secondly, once obtained, the material must be broken down in various ways by means of indexing so that it becomes practicable to ask complex questions. The records as they exist in the archives were not organized to help the social investigator.
This chapter will consider some strategies which we have adopted to collect together then break down the types of record described in the previous chapter by hand. A later volume will describe methods for breaking down the same records using a computer. The two methods are complementary.
The necessity to obtain complete transcripts of all relevant documents cannot be stressed too greatly. Whenever abstracts are made, it later appears that one has omitted something of importance. Even full transcripts are not really satisfactory for it is frequently necessary to return to the original handwriting in order to check ambiguities. This need for an exact copy would seem to pose an insuperable problem for, as we have seen, the records for any one parish are often immense. To transcribe them in full at the archives, as our Victorian forebears found, could occupy many months or years and even then one would only have an unsatisfactory copy, rather than the original.
Even if it were possible to overcome the transcription difficulty it would seem to be extremely difficult to devise an uniform and satisfactory way of rearranging the material so that it could be used more economically and swiftly. The basic principle of the indexing required to make access to the records possible is that each index must, in essence, be devoted to a major theme, for example, name, place, subject. Within each index the separate records, or 'cards' in a card index, relate the major theme to one other piece of information. However much is written on a specific card or sheet, when one is looking at it at a particular moment, one is looking for a single connection between two pieces of information, for example, between a name and a place or a date and an event. A good deal of research consists of breaking down material into its supposed 'constituent elements', and then building it up again, thus correlating areas which have previously been artificially held apart by the original ordering of the information. This principle of tone fact on one card', 'fact' being defined as an interrelation between two pieces of information, is of crucial importance in many branches of research, and is widely recognized.
Efficient indexing is the essential research tool for any really fruitful study of the kind envisaged here. The success or failure of historical reconstruction will largely depend on the sophistication and thoroughness of the indexing. When attempting to solve problems, it is absolutely essential that one should be able to move very quickly along a series of links, a chain of names or events or places, in order to see whether some hypothesis is correct. If such movement is very arduous or time-consuming, the tenuous thread will be lost. The social anthropologist or sociologist can operate by using the flexibility and linking capacity of the human brain, using the memory and synthesizing power of both himself and his informants. By asking the right questions in the right order he can elicit complex information. The final aim of an investigator of past communities attempting to study similar problems is to build his information around him in such a form that he can approach as closely as possible to the social scientist's privileged position, but in relation to a far larger body of data than that usually available to any specific social investigator. The following is a description of one attempt to come to grips with very large bodies of material using manual-indexing methods.
3:2 Location and transfer of records.
In England, the stage of locating and copying the original documents relating to a specific area in the past has been transformed by two major developments which have occurred since 1960. Before that date it would have been impossible to have attempted the kind of project described in this book. The records for particular places were scattered and unindexed, their whereabouts were often unknown. Even when located, they were often found to be in private hands or in large repositories where they could not be found amidst the piles of other documents. Since the last war, and with increasing momentum, there has been an archival revolution. The two main features of this change have been the widespread establishment of local Record Offices in most counties and large towns, and a vastly improved systems of listing and indexing the records which were deposited in them. The result has been that many records which were previously in private hands have now become accessible and others which could not be found have now been listed. It is very hard in the later 1970s to envisage the difficulties facing the historian of local communities before about 1960. It would certainly have been impossible to have attempted, for example, the study of Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria for the records, including the important listing of the parish in 1695 and the voluminous manorial records at Lowther Castle, were either undiscovered or unavailable. For the first time since the parishes actually existed in the past, their records have become visible and adequate guides and indexes have appeared.
Even when the records have become visible they could still elude us since their bulk would make it impossible to copy them out as a preliminary to analysis. For example, during the last century a number of local historians were interested in the parish of Kirkby Lonsdale and spent many months transcribing the records, including the wills at London, manor court books in private hands, and the parish registers. Yet their combined years of labour have merely produced a very partial selection from the voluminous records. Furthermore, the local historians who transcribed records lived in a more leisurely age, supported on clerical or other stipends which allowed them to spend many months browsing and copying the documents. The modern student often has less time and simply cannot afford to go to London or Preston for a year at a time while he transcribes every single word. Even if he could do so, he would be well aware that even his most careful efforts at accurate transcripts will contain errors. Fortunately, during the same period as the material became available, there was a photographic revolution. The development of various techniques of photocopying documents, including xeroxing, microfilming and microfiche, has helped the student of past communities. Again this may seem to non-historians to be a technological change of no great importance. Until one has faced 2,000 probate inventories for one parish, or hundreds of feet of manor court roll, it is, difficult to see how the development of photography can alter the very nature of the questions we ask. Yet it seems likely that the use of photocopies of original documents in the study will come to be recognized as a step of the same magnitude as the break with tradition in social anthropology whereby, in the early part of this century, Malinowski started to work in the original language of the society he was studying, rather than through an interpreter. It has freed the historian so that he can undertake a depth of analysis hitherto barred by the sheer practical impossibility of bringing together all the original material into one place.
Merely locating the material for a specific place in the past can be a fairly lengthy process since records tend to be very widely scattered in England. Many of the documents will be stored in the local Record Office and the first step is to enquire there. But a very large quantity will still be in private hands, in central repositories in London, and elsewhere. For example, the ecclesiastical court records relating to Kirkby Lonsdale are distributed between Carlisle, Chester, Leeds, London, Preston and York. Even when the place of deposit is discovered, it may take a considerable time to find the records relating to a particular parish, especially if one is searching through the records of a court which covers the whole of England. It is for this reason, among others, that the records of such central courts as Chancery, King's Bench and Star Chamber have remained practically unused by local historians. Yet there are now a growing number of very good guides to the nature and location of records (Guide to Essex Record Office 1969; Guide to Public Records 1963; Hoskins 1959; Stephens 1973). The availability of such guides makes it unnecessary to expand on the problems of locating documents.
The final aim is to transfer all the material from its scattered resting places to one's study so that it can be thoroughly investigated. The method for doing this will vary with each document and each research worker, but some general remarks as to how we have proceeded may be of interest to others since there has been little discussion in print concerning the effects of the recent advances in photography on historical research.
There are two major choices open to a research worker who is faced with a document or pile of documents which he wishes to "transfer' from one place to another. The first is the degree to which the document will be altered even as it is first transcribed. Is it to be shortened by just taking abstracts, or is it to be reordered with a view to future analysis, or is it to be translated if it is in a foreign language? For example, when faced with a large number of cases in a particular court which all have a common form, it may be thought sensible to copy out the cases in a standard and reordered format, taking several spare carbon copies at the same time. The document can then, without further time-consuming copying and reordering, be broken down under a number of headings. An example of this in relation to ecclesiastical court records will be given below. Yet there are serious drawbacks to such a reordering which will also be discussed later.
The second major decision concerns the technical medium or method of copying. If one has decided to obtain an unchanged transcript it will save enormous periods of time and labour if a photocopy can be made. Also all manual transcripts need to be double-checked since errors in transcription are bound to occur. Furthermore, the exact location of words on the page, the style of the handwriting, the pieces which are crossed out, all these often turn out to be important at a later date and can only be partially and with great difficulty captured in a handwritten or typed transcript. Microfilms are far cheaper than xerox copies and are easier to store. Certain documents, such as court rolls, are often too bulky to be photographed in any other way. Furthermore, if one uses an ordinary 35mm slide projector, cuts up the microfilm and mounts it as slides, it is possible to enlarge the original document several times by projecting it onto a wall. When the original is difficult to decipher, it is Often much easier to read in this form. On the other hand, microfilms are in some ways less easy to work with. It is difficult to type directly from them or to find a particular page on a roll of microfilm (although slides can be numbered and indexed), than on a sheet of xerox. One of the major considerations in deciding whether to photocopy the documents or transcribe them by hand at the archive, apart from money and the availability of photographic facilities, is the degree to which the information one needs is concentrated. Information concerning a particular place that is concentrated in blocks, such as a parish register or manor court roll, is ideal for photographic treatment. Records that lie scattered and embedded in other documents-of less relevance, for instance the material in ecclesiastical and secular courts, may be very wasteful to photograph. A compromise which deals with some situations is to tape-record verbatim documents which are very long, yet are not of the right texture or sufficiently numerous to photograph, such as the long depositions in certain central courts. This last option, as well as the possibility of using a typewriter, depends entirely on the facilities of the archive where the research is being conducted. It may also be worth learning shorthand in order to save time at the Record Office.
When one has made a copy of the original document so that it can worked on at one's own convenience the real work of analysis has still not begun. Yet such copying has absorbed a large proportion of the total energy of a great band of local historians. If it is decided to take a shortcut and to save time by restructuring the records as they are copied at the archive, it is essential that one not only understands the documents completely at this early stage, but also that one has a clear idea of the kind of questions one is likely to ask. This is necessary not only so that the reordered transcripts are sensibly arranged, but also because it is very likely that implicitly or explicitly a decision will be taken to omit certain, apparently redundant and irrelevant, information when making the reordered transcript. Later it is very likely that one will find that what was left out is vitally important: it is not always possible to go back and find it, or go back to unscramble one's apparently foolproof reordering to obtain what turns out to be the essential order of the original. Since, in practice, it appears that one cannot either fully understand the documents until they have all been assembled and one can compare them, nor can one specify in advance the full range of questions one will be interested in, the short-cut turns out to be a long way round. The course of wisdom, if one is to be fully satisfied, is to keep reordering and omission at this stage to an absolute.
3:3 Indexing the data by hand.
The major stages in transcribing and indexing documents by hand are as follows:
1 Locate the document.
2 Make a copy for reference, preferably by photographic means.
3 Transcribe fully and translate into English if necessary, taking carbon copies for indexes.
4 Check the transcript against the copy or the original.
5 Abstract names for the personal name index.
6 Cut up carbon copies for indexes by place, subject etc.
7 Sort name, place and subject indexes.
8 Link cards to identify specific people, places etc.
The first four stages have been described in the previous section. They may be done in the archive or at home; several of the processes may be done in one operation, but it is, necessary to distinguish them for purposes of analysis. The final product of these stages for us is an exact, English, typewritten or handwritten, version of the original, with several spare carbon copies, or xerox copies. One copy of this will be filed by source. We use different coloured springback files to denote the major sources, for example, manorial - red, ecclesiastical - green, courts other than ecclesiastical - blue. All these stages are necessary whether one is going to index and process the documents by hand or by computer.
The next four stages are peculiar to a hand-indexing system and are extremely time consuming. For many types of search the human mind and eye are more efficient than a computer and the best way to solve a problem is to use a hand index. The following account of producing such an index by hand is based on practical experience with Essex and Cumbrian parishes during the years 1963-77. There are five principal ways of classifying the information by hand; by source, name, subject, date, place. It is necessary to be able to move both within an index and between indexes, for example from name to name, date to date, name to date to subject to place and so on. This can be represented simply as in figure 3:1. The creation of all the possible types of index under these five headings, for example name by date, name by place, name by subject etc., would mean that the information would have to be arranged in 25 different indexes or five times five. At present we have found that the following general indexes are the most useful, though others will no doubt emerge:
1 Source index:
Complete transcripts of each source, arranged by date within source and kept in coloured files.
2 Personal name index: Cross-references to every personal name, on small coloured cards organised alphabetically.
3 Separate name indexes to specific sources: At present we have these for: Hearth Tax, will-makers, parish registers of neighbouring parishes, Josselin's diary and the Harlakenden Account Book.
4 General place index: All references to particular houses or plots of land: alphabetical by name of place.
5 Manorial transfers, to: All transfers of property in the court rolls, organized alphabetically under the names of the persons who received the property.
6 Manorial transfers, from: As above, but organised by the names of the people from whom the property was transferred.
7 Rental Index: All rentals and surveys, organised alphabetically by the names of the holders of the land.
8 Map index: Abstracts of records, showing for each field or house the names of all owners and residents, from a sixteenth-century map to the Tithe Award map. All sources are incorporated; the index is linked to a numbered map and organised under property number.
9 General subject index: Full transcripts of cases from various courts, including the court leet, Quarter Sessions, ecclesiastical courts, and also from other sources such as wills, diaries etc. Organised under topics such as 'godchildren', 'murder', bastardy', 'weather' etc.
10 Court index: Full transcripts of appearances in all courts, from court leet to Star Chamber, organised alphabetically by person; includes ownership of freehold land, common recoveries etc. as well as criminal offences.
Figure 3:1. Major types of index.
It will be seen that about one dozen major indexes, or about half of the possible types, have been created. This allows swift access to the records in a number of different ways. The indexes listed above can be broken down into two major classes. Those produced by abstracting from a record, and those where the whole of a record is included. The major example of the former, and probably the most important of all research indexes, is the personal name index to all documents. This was originally modelled on the idea of abstracting names from a parish register central to 'family reconstitution'. It is basically used for identifying separate individuals, or record linkage. The cards set links both within this index and to other indexes. It has to be an abstract, yet the abstract must be full enough to allow the reconstitution of individuals from this index alone, with pointers to all the sources of this information. Through the matching of records within this one index all the other indexes are invisibly drawn together into a complex skein or web. The nature of the index can again best be illustrated by a diagram, showing the various fields which may occur on a name index card. These fields, or the information in them, act as concentrated sets of pointers between records. Each card must refer to only one 'event', in other words one appearance of one person in one document at one point in time. The information must not be expanded too greatly. If they become stores of information, rather than abstracts used for matching, this will destroy their purpose, for they will merely become another replication of the data in its entirety and too large to handle. Yet each one needs to contain not only an accurate reference to its origin, but also information which will fall into any of the following criteria for matching two cards against each other in order to determine whether they refer to the same person: surname, forename, father's forename, mother's forename, date of birth, date of death, marital status, spouse's name, date of marriage. Figure 3:2 shows how these information fields may be arranged on an index card.
The card is filed under the name and all the information on it is related to that individual, for example, he is a butcher and constable. The card thus points one into the other indexes of place, subject and source, as well as to the name index under Henry's father, William. Most cards, of course, do not contain most of these fields; examples derived from particular sources will be given in the following sections. A further practical constraint is size; in our system cards are cut to two and a half inches by three inches, half a standard five by three card. If they are any bigger the resulting indexes would be colossal. Even on very thin paper and on these small cards, a name index for a parish of 1,200 persons for a period of 400 years is likely to occupy many cubic feet of space, or several dozen filing cabinet drawers.
Figure 3:2. Model of a name index card, with an example of a complete card (hypothetical)
All the other main indexes take the whole of a record, for example with a land transfer or court case we use a standard size index card five inches by three inches, and fold long items to conform to the standard card. Since each index uses a different key under which the document will be arranged, it is essential for the sake of speed of searching to have some way of drawing the human eye to the central key. Originally a system of reordering the document, for example so that personal names came near the top of a card, sources at the bottom, was devised. This has several advantages when searching, for information concerning different fields can be found quickly and a certain amount of abbreviation and coding can also be undertaken at the same time. In practice, a number of our hand indexes are constructed in this way and they will be illustrated in the following sections. On the basis of experience, however, we have finally come to the conclusion that the saving in time when searching does not justify such a restructuring for there are two serious defects which arise from this method. Firstly, it takes much longer to type a copy from the original document since the original word order is not used and the eye has to search ahead for information from the later part of the record which may need to be put near the start of the restructured version. With the very great number of records to be processed, this is a serious matter. Secondly, it leads to various kinds of inaccuracy. Not only does the greater effort needed to resort the information lead to mistakes, but, as suggested above, a stage of abbreviation and coding is slipped in here. In order to compress and save time, phrases are turned into single words and different but apparently similar words are standardized. If this were done absolutely consistently the harm would not be great. But not only is it impossible for several different workers, working over months and years, to be consistent, but it is impossible to recover from mistaken coding. It is thus becoming clear that while it may help to guide the eye in certain ways, for example by the use of capital letters or underlining, the text should be transcribed in full and in the original order. Figure 3:3 shows the two systems. The original record consisted of a flow of words which appeared to contain the information fields 'A', 'B','C','D'. In example 1 the fields are located on different parts of the page and in example 2 the relevant field is indicated by underlining. It has been found that the documents themselves are almost always sufficiently structured so that, once one understands their form, it is possible to find information 'fields' quickly. The original order may turn out to be important later and to destroy it just to help the searching is unsatisfactory. It is better to mark or underline and not to interfere with the original text.
Figure 3:3. Two ways of indexing.
Another point we have learnt from bitter experience is that transcribing, indexing and linking together records which refer to the same person are separate stages and must not be conflated however much, in the short run, this appears to save time and paper. Thus, for example, our method of indexing the ecclesiastical court records, illustrated below, where several presentments apparently made against the same person were put together when transcribing from the original document, is unsatisfactory and leads to error. The general rule of only one event on one card must be adhered to.
The various types of index which have already been found to be of use and moderately easy to create by hand have been outlined above. It will be seen that various kinds of subject index are beginning to be made. It the subject indexes will grow dramatically partly because such indexes are not only indexes in themselves, but are, likely that in fact, substantive results in their own right. Other indexes, for example an index of all occupations or statuses mentioned, or of all the sources by date order, with every event occurring on each successive day in the village indicated, would be most useful.
The following sections are included for two purposes. To document the system which we currently use and hence provide a guide to those who wish to consult our indexes, and to provide an historical account of how our handindexing system emerged. It must be stressed, however, that it should not be taken as a model. As repeatedly stated above, we have now come to the conclusion that the best method is to type the original record verbatim, in an English translation, and not to restructure it at all. As a model, therefore, we would suggest that the direct transcript of the original given in chapter 2 above, with suitable underlining or other marks to help the eye, would be the best form in which the document could be transcribed for the hand indexes.
3:4 Parish register.
Figure 3:4. Example of a parish register card.
Figure 3:5. Cards generated by a marriage entry.
There is little need to alter parish register entries except to abbreviate them to save space and time. Our restructured version is shown in figure 3:4.
We type a top copy, which is kept in a file so that one can look up by the source, and three carbon copies are made. Each entry in the register is glued onto a yellow card. The colour coding may seem unimportant at first, but it makes information retrieval from the central name index much faster. We did not originally employ such a colour code in the Kirkby Lonsdale study and found that it took much longer to retrieve information. The use of glue, rather than staples which we originally used, is also essential. Staples turn out to be hopelessly unmanageable. It is perhaps worth mentioning that we have found that small quantities of wallpapering adhesive made up from powder is more efficient and economical than buying pots of glue.
Parish register entries often contain two or more names, for example, John son of Peter X was baptized. Such an entry needs to be filed under both John and under Peter. In such cases the person under whom the card is to be indexed needs to be underlined, as in the example below. The second carbon copy can be cut up and used for such double name instances. When there are more than two names in an entry, the third carbon copy is used. Marriages are more complicated since not only are there two partners, but two cards need to be made for the woman, in order to record and link her incarnations as a married and unmarried woman. An example of the cards generated by a marriage appears as figure 3:5. The principles of abstracting such small records have already been widely discussed by those practising family reconstitution. The method above is merely a slight modification of their approach and draws heavily, for example, on their methods of dealing with marriage links (Wrigley 1966: 123).
With a parish register it is also necessary at some point to start abstracting certain entries into the subject index; there are references to bastards, deaths of strangers, twins, suicides, epidemics and other matters. Basically this is a very simple source which mainly creates information for the general name index.
3:5 Manorial rental.
Figure 3:6. Rental cards.
Manorial rentals, which deal with land and other property as well as people, are more complicated documents and our original restructured versions attempted to deal with this fact by a more fundamental reordering of the information. Our present version of a rental transcript card is shown in figure 3:6. The small card in the same figure is an example of the very much abbreviated abstracts used in the main name index. These abstracts are made on blue cards, to indicate that they come from manorial records. This, and the other examples in this chapter, correspond to the full transcripts in chapter 2.
Rentals have an added dimension in that they tell us a good deal about property ownership and they therefore need to be integrated into various place indexes. We have found by experience that the two most important place indexes are as follows. One is organized by the name of the property. This enables one to look up all references to a named piece of land or house. A second is organized by the name of the owner.
3:6 Manor court transfer.
Figure 3:7. Manor court transfer card.
Manorial transfers can be dealt with in a similar way to rentals, though they tend to be longer entries and more complex. An added copy needs to be taken in order to deal with the two owners mentioned. The example we have chosen is a relatively short and simple one. The main transcript card is shown as figure 3:7. It will be seen that, as in the rental, information on certain topics is located on certain areas of the card. This fixed format approach makes it easier to hunt through an index primarily organized, for example, for names or dates. Typing surnames in capitals and underlining would, however, be almost as efficient and the extra labour and inaccuracies of the system, as mentioned above, suggests that it would be better to type the document, with some abbreviations, exactly as in the original.
As with rentals, the top copy is kept exactly in the order which it appears in the original document. One carbon copy is cut up and glued onto cards and sorted under the name of the place. We have found it most useful to create two indexes for land transfers, one for persons from whom, the other for parsons to whom, property is transferred. Every name, whether of past owners, witnesses to the transaction, those acting for the bailiff, or in any other capacity, is abstracted onto blue cards and put into the name index. These cards should not only carry the name and date and source, but also the role of the individual in the transfer, for example 'owner of tenement'. With an estimated five thousand or more names in the manorial courts for the parish of Earls Colne over the whole historical period, it can be seen that this is no small task.
3:7 The view of frankpledge.
Figure 3:8. Cards from a view of frankpledge.
Although they constitute lengthy records, the lists of names of those who owed suit of court in views of frankpledge are simple documents, even simpler to deal with than the parish register. An exact transcript of the document is made for our files and each name is abstracted onto a blue card for the name index. The cards derived from the last three names in the example form figure 3:8.
3:8 Court leet.
Figure 3:9. Cards from a court leet presentment.
Figure 3:9 shows three of the cards which would be abstracted from the sample court leet cases. Once again the top copy would be kept with the rest of the source, that is within the full transcript of the court rolls. All the names would be abstracted onto small blue cards, one of which is shown in the figure.
One problem that interests us in the overlap of courts. Do people who appear in the court leet also appear in Quarter Sessions? Does a particular case move from court to court? For this reason we have an index, by the name of the accused, of all court appearances. A problem which faces us with all court records other than land transfers is that whatever subject index headings we chose, they are likely to be arbitrary and idiosyncratic. Yet it is obviously better to bring together cases which seem to be concerned with the same type of action, than not to attempt this at all. For example, at present the court leet cases are arranged under some of the following headings in our index: aliens - harbouring strangers; assault; drink - drunken behaviour, enclosure - unlawful enclosure; licence - to keep an alehouse or practice as a baker or butcher; office - offences relating to official duties.
It will be obvious that someone who was primarily interested, for example, in bakers and brewers, might have an index which cut across the ones listed above to pick up all references to baking and brewing. The divisions have been designed to be general enough to be able to deal with material not only from the court leet, but also from other contemporary courts. Only thus will it be possible to see how various actions overlapped and moved between the courts. The distinctions also tend to be based, as much as possible, on the offences as they were seen by officials at the time, rather than on our own distinctions. We have found that it is surprisingly easy to index almost all of the court material without hesitation or the need to index the same offence two or three times under separate headings within a fairly narrow range of topics, not more than forty in all.
3:9 The ecclesiastical court.
Figure 3:10. Ecclesiastical court card.
Ecclesiastical court records are somewhat more complex than the court leet cases, but basically they can be dealt with in the same way. The main problem is that whereas the court leet cases are specific to manors within the parish, the ecclesiastical cases come from the Archdeaconry Act books which cover the whole deanery of Lexden and references to Earls Colne are sporadic. Thus it is expensive to microfilm them. The format described below was devised after considerable experimentation and allows one to start indexing even while working on the original records in a Record office. It is therefore efficient in terms of time, space, and ease of searching. It suffers from the drawbacks mentioned above in that it may easily distort the original record and lead to coding and oversimplification. If one were starting again, therefore, it would be best to take exact transcripts of the original. This system is described here partly as an historical record, partly as a guide to our less than perfect, but already existing, system. As these records take a long time to search, the following form was devised to speed up the process of transcription and also to make it unnecessary to reindex the records once they had been transcribed. The form was also devised to take into account the special ecclesiastical process and jargon. The card generated by the sample case is shown as figure 3:10. We use green cards in the name index for all appearances in the ecclesiastical court. For the subject index, we face the same problems of classification that were found with the court leet. Some of the headings within which it has been found possible to place the ecclesiastical court cases without doing them too much violence are as follows: administration - of wills; attendance - at church; doctrine - nonconformity of; magic including witchcraft; poor - rates and duties; school teaching; sex - various sexual offences; slander - all verbal abuse; swearing - all profane swearing. It has emerged from the analysis of several different parishes in Essex and Cumbria that all the ecclesiastical business in the various courts can be organized under less than forty headings. A number of these overlap with those devised for other courts. As with most courts, there are occasionally longer personal depositions. These cannot be dealt with in the fashion described above. They need to be fully transcribed and kept intact, with cross-references to them by name and subject.
3:10 Quarter Sessions.
Quarter Sessions records are of very many different kinds, but one of the most interesting is the presentment. An example of such a record is given in chapter 2. The cards generated for our indexes differ only in colour from those used for court leet cases, As with other court records, one copy is kept under the source, each name is abstracted onto a small white name index card, which gives the name, a brief description of the role of the individual and the type of case, and source and date, One copy of the original is cut up and put into the subject index under such headings as alien harbouring of; doctrine - nonconformity of; fraud; licence - to practice in various occupations; magic -including witchcraft; sex - various offences; trespass - on property. It will be seen that these overlap with the categories devised for the previous courts we have considered. on the basis of extensive work on the Quarter Sessions records for Essex and Cumbria it would seem that, once again, between thirty and forty subject categories would encompass all the types of case that occurred in this court. We also put one copy in a 'court' index under the name of the accused.
A full Assize deposition has already been illustrated above. The case is included not only because it represents the very large classes of central records which have rarely been used by local historians, but also because it constitutes one of the most lengthy and complex types of legal documents. Such depositions occur in most of the courts, whether they are ecclesiastical, Quarter Sessions, Assizes, Star Chamber, and they pose a special problem for any indexing system. In fact, they cannot really be re-ordered to make them fit neatly onto cards. We abstract relevant details from them for all of our indexes and use the full transcript when necessary.
3:12 Hearth Tax.
The taxation records for most periods are usually much briefer and more structured than most other classes of records and pose no especial problems. The top typed copy is kept in a file by source, by the date of the particular tax, while the first carbon copy is cut up and each name is glued onto a small gold card so that it will fit into the general name index. Thus each entry is roughly similar in size if less complex than the names in a parish register.
Figure 3:11. Will abstract form.
Wills have to be treated in much the same way as court depositions. They are usually long and detailed, and the document needs to be examined as a whole. For this reason we do not make numerous copies but have developed another system of indexing them which we find useful. A special will abstract form is illustrated as figure 3:11.
It will be seen that at the top of each small section the person to whom the reference or bequest is made is indicated, with his or her relationship to the testator or role in the will shown below. The details of any bequest are placed next, and at the bottom of each 'box' is the name of the will-maker and the date it was made. The top copy is kept intact, and filed alphabetically with the other wills under the name of the testator so that the wills for any individual or family can easily be found. The next copy, which is on pink paper, is cut up so that each 'box' forms a card of suitable size for the name index. The name of the will-maker himself has to be written on another pink card, with date of making, reference, and proving date, otherwise his name would not be incorporated in the name index. Another copy is filed in the subject index. Wills frequently contain bequests to the church, to the poor, to godchildren and others, and sometimes have an interesting religious formula at the start.
3:14 Probate inventory.
As has already been stated, the probate inventories for Essex are, for the most part, lost. In the case of the very extensive Cumbrian inventories, they have been treated somewhat like depositions, in other words, a full copy of the original is kept, to which various indexes refer. At present, this copy is kept in the form of the original xerox copy though a typed transcript will be necessary when extensive work on this source starts. These originals are filed alphabetically.
The listing for 1695 illustrated above contains highly structured information. We type copies, incorporating numbers to preserve the name order in the document. We index it under each name, filling in all the kinship relationships for each individual. Since the listing is such a central document where it exists, it was also decided to make a special listing name index for the whole parish of Kirkby Lonsdale.
The method outlined above describes the analysis of only a dozen representative sources; it can be extended on the same principles to cover almost all historical sources bearing on particular parishes. When extended, it will gradually create indexes and cross-references which make it possible to do justice to the richness and complexity of the documents. The original sources will, in many cases, be, available as a photographic copy. A restructured but full copy will be available by source; one will thus be able to look up all the events in a particular period under a particular date. On the basis of the work conducted so far, it would appear that less than one hundred subject headings will deal with the very great majority of the topics encountered in the documents. Finally, a complete name index will have been created. Every mention of an individual in any type of document will finally come together in this index. Using coloured cards to indicate quickly the different classes of sources, retrieval of individual life histories will be possible. In essence, this name index is really a matter of taking the method of 'family reconstitution' one stage further by connecting all the references in other documents to those from the parish registers.