Thursday, 14 August 2014

No more stripping in the living room for me!

Recently I'd been contemplating buying the Victorian BDM indexes on CD-ROM (or however they come), because about half of my family originated from Victoria at some stage or other in the past 200 years. At over AU$200 each I wasn't in a hurry, but I was also sick of the online indexes, having to pay per search, with $5 pre-set spending limits, enter in my Visa number every time, etc, which was getting to be a pain. Then I saw a post on an Aussie genie Facebook page about the indexes being available with the Internet Archive and I just had to investigate. They are available as Full Text, HTTPS, and Torrent files. I chose to download them as Torrents, as I already use uTorrent for other things, so I'm familiar with it. This programme sucks them off the net (technical terminology which demonstrates my knowledge of how the internet works) in a csv format, and saves it all as a txt file. I'm OK with all that - it's just Excel jargon.

So I opened Excel, and (using a video off YouTube to refresh my memory of how to do the task) imported the txt files into Excel, and voila!, I now have my very own set of Vic BDM's!! Unfortunately, during the process of doing the transfer Excel did pop up with an error message, to which I said "Yeah, whatever, just get on with it" and accepted it, which has resulted in there being remarkably similar numbers of births, marriages, and deaths imported into my file. I know that some must have been left out because poor Excel couldn't cope with the whole lot, but I have still ended up with 1,048,576 births (1836 - 1920), 1,048,776 marriages (1836 - 1942), and 1,048,572 deaths (1836 - 1985), which *should* include almost all of my folk, if not all of them.

Screen shot of some of my results
So then the fun began! I sorted them all alphabetically by surname (can't help it, I work in a library) and I've been colouring my surnames in blue, and turning red the ones that I know for sure are mine. I could highlight them, copy and paste subsets into another Excel workbook so I can sort them further, and even have a list of registration numbers to use when I want to order a copy of the image from the Registry. Then I can tick them off once I have the document in my family file.

Prior to this discovery I've been taking screen shots of the Registry's results page, printing them out, and cutting them into little strips, to try and recreate some family groups within certain surnames. My husband remarks that I've been stripping again (he wishes!).

My 7yo geneapprentice, Georgia, helping match births to the relevant marriage of the parents


This is a perfectly fine method if you don't mind spending a lot of time on your knees the floor, and live without the fan operating to circulate the hot air around. In my mind, Excel is now the way to go. Thanks internet!

18 comments:

  1. Thank you! Am saving the deaths right now. Have already successfully downloaded births and split inot several spreadsheets, brilliant.

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    1. That's great crgalvin! Glad it was useful. Did you get the opportunity to split the data when the error message came up, or by some other method? I'd love to know how you did that. Also, how many B & M & D did you end up with?

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  2. Brilliant. Had to leave them downloading overnight. Just importing them into Excel now.

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    1. EXCELlent!! Hope it works for you, Jill.

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  3. Janelle,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/08/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-august-15.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Wonderful! I'm thrilled. Thanks for that Jana :)

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  4. Hi Janelle. I don't like adding new programs to the computer unless I have to. So, I downloaded the text version into the Browser. It did not download all of them either. So, I'm not sure what the problem is. Unfortunately, I was not able to copy the downloaded text into a Word Document, and then EXCEL. So, I've downloaded Torrent.
    Regards

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  5. Thank you very much Janelle! WOW! I can totally relate to spending lots on searches and then printing out indexes and saving/sorting so really appreciate this. I am not very technical (learning all the time) so it too me a while to work it out but all good now! Thanks again! EXCELlent :)

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    1. Hi Sharon, if you see more comments below, it seems that MS Access seems to work better than MS Excel, so maybe try that if you have it. I'll try it too. Love to hear how you get on.

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  6. Wow... I've just downloaded. That's too much data for a spreadsheet. I imported the marriages into an Access database - there were 1,892,768 records. At least 2 records per marriage by the look of it.Unfortunately I can't play with it any longer just now but when I import the births and deaths I'll let you know how many records you should see.

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    1. Thanks Shelley! You & John seem to have had more success with Access than I had with Excel, so I'll try Access as well, & "compare the pair". Thanks for commenting :)

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    2. I just had a thought (rubber did burn - I can still smell it), that maybe there are two entries so there's an entry with the groom's surname first, and another with the bride's surname first.
      If I re-do my file into Access it would mean I wouldn't have to do what I already did in Excel, (but with less data than optimal due to having less records than there are available), and sort the groom's name by alpha order, colour that text (so I can see my surnames easily), then I sorted them all by the bride's surname & did the same text colouring, then sorted them back in the groom's surname order. Using Access would then make searching much easier.

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  7. Hi Janelle.
    I've been working on the indices. I started by bringing them into EXCEL, but that was laborious. I then used ACCESS, and opened the CSV file in a similar way to opening it in EXCEL. It comes over easily. There are approx 2.5M deaths, 1.9M marriages and about the same number of births.

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    1. Great John! Thanks for the tip. I'll try Access too. I just LOVE genie collaboration.

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  8. Thank you everyone. I have just imported into Access (which I had never used until today) and got all the records (WOW - HUGE!)................now I just need some time to go through them.
    Thank you so much Janelle for highlighting this :)

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    1. Yay! I'll dig my txt files out of the Recycle Bin and try Access. Thanks! :)

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  9. Update: imported the .txt data into Access as 3 separate tables, one each for births, marriages, and deaths, and after a false start where I stuffed it up, it worked!!! This gives me waaaaaay more entries than Excel did.
    Many thanks to Shelley Crawford, John Sparrow, and Sharon for the ideas :)

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