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Help and advice for Maintaining the Church Records Files

If you have found a problem on this page then please report it on the following form. We will then do our best to fix it. If you are wanting advice then the best place to ask is on the area's specific email lists. All the information that we have is in the web pages, so please do not ask us to supply something that is not there. We are not able to offer a research service.

If you wish to report a problem, or contribute information, then do use the following form to tell us about it.

Maintaining the Church Records Files


Information about individual churches is provided at a county level via a csv file for each county containing details about the churches. These files are downloaded each night and used to completely replace the existing church table in the database.

Information about church records is rather complicated with a range of orioginal registers, Bishop's transcripts, register transcripts and indexes such as the IGI. These cannot be easily added as additional fields in the church table and so an extra layer has been developed to record and present such information. As such information comes from a number of sources, an architecture has been developed so that multiple files can be used to provide information for a single county and thus also provide the ability to devolve maintenance to multiple people. E.g. Family History Societies could provide there own file with details of their church publications.

A more sophisticated update mechanism has also been put in place so that each file is checked once a night, and only if it has changed, that part of the church records database table is replaced.

Defining location of csv files

For each county a single file is recorded in the database which contains a record of the individual files being used to provide church record information for that county. Once the url of that file has been defined changes to individual file locations is controlled by that county maintainer, and there is no need for changes to be made centrally.

The file is a simple text file that just contains a list of urls of the csv files that are being used to provide church record information for that county, each url being ona separate line. Blank lines can be used for spacing and comments inserted to help record the information in each file. A hash character # is used to start a comment and the rest of the line is ignored. So to start providing church record information you need to give Phil the url of this file.




# List of urls of csv files holding info about Lancs church Registers

/big/eng/LAN/Gs5rV/lprs-regs.csv # LPRS
/big/eng/LAN/Gs5rV/lro-regs.csv # Lancs Record Office



Linking church record information to churches

The church id number is the information used to link the church record information to the church pages. This is field U in the church database csv file. It is not a required field, but if you do not specify an id in field U, you cannot provide church record information. This is because a number is generated automatically if you don't provide one in field U, ina range starting at 10,000. The dynamic number for an individual church is not always the same and so church record information for churches with an id greater than 9,999 is silently ignored. So to use this facility you need to use unique id numbers for you churches in field U.

In order to make it easier for people contributing church record information, the church id is displayed on the web pages for the churches, provided of course that it is less than 10,000. It is on the right of the page where Church Record information appears, i.e. just above Maps where you haven't yet provided church record information. It is displayed in small text so that it doesn't distract normal users, but if you move the mouse over it, it enlarges and 'Church Id' appears above it.

There is also a facility to pre-generate a skeleton set of church record csv file entries containing the names and numbers of churches which can avoid the need to look-up church ids. This link appears in the county Section report linked from the Spider statistics page.

Church Record csv file format

  1. County - Chapman county code. (The first two fields provide the link to the church).
  2. Id - Church id, to match that in field U of the church record. If this field is left blank the record will be silently ignored, and can thus be used to record incomplete information until ready for publishing.
  3. Place - These next four fields are never used but are hidden in the database entries. They provide the ability to easily see to which church the entry belongs, as none of us will be able to remenber ids.
  4. Dedication -
  5. Street -
  6. Denomination -
  7. Reg Type - The type of document in which the information is recorded. This is a single character from a pre-defined list. If an asterisk is used, this record will be silently ignored.
    • * - Silently ignore this record (Useful for predefined skeleton records for which we do not yet have the details.)
    • O - Orginal register.
    • C - Image copy of original register e.g. film or electronic image.
    • B - Bishop's Transcript
    • T - Register Transcript
    • I - Index or records that are a partial transcript e.g. IGI
  8. Event - The type of event that is being recorded. A basic set is known about as described here and expanded in the data presented to the user, and ordered by life event. Anything else appears verbatim at the end of the list.
    • Bapt
    • Banns
    • Marr
    • Bur
    • MI
  9. From - Start year (4 digits). (Use an * to silently ignore this record.)
  10. To - End year (4 digits).
  11. Organisation - The code for this organisation in our Organisation database table. At the moment this is maintained by hand by Phil. When organisations are defined you will see them in the Spider section report for your county e.g. Lancashire. This table is also used to define Family History Societies for another development to show the areas they cover on a Google map. If the code specified here is not found in your county a check is also made at the top level. The use of a code here keeps the csv file smaller and avoids the need for lots of changes if the organisation's url changes.
  12. Author - This is a variation on the above where an organisation may hold records produced by somebody else. It uses the same encoding technique.
  13. Record Id - This is the publishers reference for this record e.g. a record office reference number. For the IGI you can insert a batch number which will be used to provide a link to search that batch.
  14. Availability - Some records are just available to view, such as film, some you can purchase. This defines how they have been made available using one of the following characters.
    • V - view
    • P - purchase
    • D - free download
  15. Media - Can be used to indicate the media on which the information has been made available e.g. book, CD, microfiche.
  16. url - a link to another website describing this particular publication.
  17. VisComment - Visible comment. This text will be shown to the user.
  18. InvisComment - Invisible comment. This field does not get loaded into the database, but can be used for notes.



"County","Id","Place","Dedication","Street","Denomination","Reg Type","Event","From","To","Organisation","Author","Record Id","Availability","Media","Url","VisComment","InvisComment"
"LAN",60,"Aldingham","StCuthbert",,"CofE","T","Bapt",1561,1694,"LANlprs",,"Vol 30","P",,,,
"LAN",60,"Aldingham","StCuthbert",,"CofE","T","Marr",1540,1694,"LANlprs",,"Vol 30","P",,,,
"LAN",60,"Aldingham","StCuthbert",,"CofE","T","Bur",1554,1695,"LANlprs",,"Vol 30","P",,,,
"LAN",60,"Aldingham","StCuthbert",,"CofE","T","Bapt",1695,1756,"LANlprs",,"Vol M10","P",,,,
"LAN",60,"Aldingham","StCuthbert",,"CofE","T","Marr",1696,1756,"LANlprs",,"Vol M10","P",,,,
"LAN",60,"Aldingham","StCuthbert",,"CofE","T","Bur",1695,1756,"LANlprs",,"Vol M10","P",,,,


This appears in the web page for Aldingham

Getting started

The provision of this information does require quite a bit of effort, but the architecture has been designed so that it can be achieved in a gradual process. You can break it up into manageable chunks and devolve the maintenance of these out to other people. Original registers for Lancashire can be in one of six record offices, and so separte cav files will be used for each of these, and according to their size they are likely to be split in sections for CofE, Roman Catholic and Non-conformist. And separate files used for each FHS that has published information. I'm hoping to pass maintenance of those to the societies themselves.

If information is provided by others without the church id then these can be used without change as the records will be silently ignored until the id is inserted. For the various files for Lancashire I'll be using the script in the county section report of the Spider results to generate skeleton csv files that just need the details adding in. And to start with it may be useful using a single file for one church to check out how it works. The example above is one that has been used for this purpose.