GENUKI Maintainers' Pages

Version 2.3

Welcome to the GENUKI Maintainers' Pages

Table of Contents


The aim of GENUKI is to serve as a "virtual reference library" of genealogical information that is of particular relevance to the UK & Ireland. It is a non-commercial service, provided by a group of volunteers in cooperation with the Federation of Family History Societies and a number of its member societies. The information that is provided in GENUKI relates to primary historical material, rather than material resulting from genealogists' ongoing research, such as GEDCOM files. Its role is thus very different from Internet-based services that help genealogists find others researching the same family, and to exchange their research results with them.

Aim of this section of GENUKI

The pages in this section of GENUKI are intended to help people who have volunteered to develop sections of GENUKI (often, but not always county and/or parish pages) and, specifically, to provide support, advice, information and assistance to the maintainers. The subordinate pages of this section are sub-divided to cover the subjects of interest to maintainers.

It should be possible for a new maintainer to use these pages to find out the role of a maintainer and how that role should be exercised. However, there is a lot of information to absorb and a new maintainer isn't expected to know it all before starting. A maintainer is expected to absorb this information gradually and the other maintainers will be happy to help during this learning period.

Getting started as a maintainer

To be a GENUKI maintainer you need to have:

For a number of reasons, GENUKI maintainers store their web pages on a variety of servers and GENUKI web services are, in practice, delivered by a number of providers.

Common look and feel

The GENUKI web pages have been developed within a defined structure to provide a common look and feel across the set of web services that constitute GENUKI without the imposition of rigorous and constraining format rules. It is important to maintain the GENUKI look and feel because it provides a simple, coherent, and consistent way for readers to access the data which they seek, across the various counties, and a wide variety of platforms.

The top level web pages are hosted, and the associated core services delivered by software running, on the server. These top level web pages often refer to sections, sometimes whole counties, hosted on other servers. Maintainers are free to store their pages either on the server, or on any other suitable servers, to which links can be provided from the server.

Structure of GENUKI information

The method of structuring that we have adopted is not one that we have invented arbitrarily for ourselves. Rather it is based closely on the method that has been developed and used by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. This, of course, is by far the largest genealogy library in existence and one with which many genealogists all over the world are familiar through their use of the microfiche and the CD-ROM versions of the library's catalogue, and of the excellent Research Guides published by the Library.

The principal means of structuring used on GENUKI is therefore by means of a four/five-level hierarchy corresponding to locality. The first (top) level corresponds to the British Isles as a whole.

The second level consists of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This choice is exactly that made by the Family History Library, and has been motivated by considerations of what major archives exist, and how various important sets of official records are organized, and not by any political considerations. Thus, Ireland is the term used to cover both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland because their official records and their genealogical traditions are inextricably mixed.

The third level of the hierarchy corresponds to counties, equivalently the separate islands comprising the Channel Islands.

The fourth level corresponds to towns and parishes within such counties. GENUKI, and most other information sources of relevance to genealogy, uses the pre-1974 counties rather than the modern ones. The base lists of parishes were taken from the 1832 definitions in "Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (2nd ed.), Chichester, Phillimore (1995)", but this covered only England and Wales, and many counties have supplemented the original Phillimore list with parishes drawn from the The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868).

The intention is that all parishes in a county should be reachable directly from the county page. However, our convention is for the list of parishes within major towns to be listed, indented under the town name on the county page, and also given on the town page, where they serve as additional links to these parish pages. Thus parishes that are grouped together within a town in fact form a fifth level in the hierarchy. The sets of town parishes that are treated this way are those that are so treated in the Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers (ibid.).

At each of these levels information is then organized by subject. We have chosen to use headings taken from the set of subject headings that the Family History Library catalogue uses for its British Isles information. The idea is to introduce such subject headings only as the need arises; many of these subject headings may never be needed, especially at the lower levels of the hierarchy. For convenience and future guidance the complete list can be found elsewhere.

This structuring method involves recording details about a given information source at the level which corresponds to the localities to which this information relates, under the appropriate subject heading. Thus information about the parish registers of Clovelly in Devon would be filed under British Isles: England: Devon: Clovelly - Church Records, while a large set of census records relating not just to England but to England and Wales, say, would be found under British Isles - Census. However, taking advantage of the web's hypertext faciities, if this latter set of census set of records is actually organized by county, we would also expect there to be reference to, say, the Devon section of the census records under British Isles: England: Devon - Census.

GENUKI sections

In addition to the four/five-level hierarchy corresponding to locality which is used to structure the underlying genealogical material, GENUKI web pages are organised in logical sections for reporting and maintenance purposes. A section is an identifiable set of GENUKI pages assigned to one or more maintainers, who are responsible for their integrity and currency.

A county is one example of a GENUKI section. Statistical reporting of GENUKI is also based on sections.

The relationships between maintainers, the sections for which they have some responsibility, and the roles they undertake within each section are defined to provide the maximum flexibility. A useful starting point for new maintainers is to see how GENUKI is organised for management purposes.

GENUKI roles

The volunteers who have devoted their time to keep GENUKI as a modern and relevant source of genealogical reference material fall into several categories defined by roles:

The roles of trustee and maintainer have been defined in detail and form part of the GENUKI standards.

Amendments to the standards

Reference is often made to "The GENUKI Standards" and, for this purpose, the GENUKI standards are the mandatory technical standards, and the standards of conduct, described in these maintainers pages. Any GENUKI maintainer or trustee may propose a change to the GENUKI standards. The process by which amendments are proposed, discussed and agreed, is one of the GENUKI standards. An amendment to the process by which the GENUKI standards are changed is also a change to the GENUKI standards and follows the same process.

Status of GENUKI counties

Every county in the British Isles is represented on GENUKI, but, depending on circumstances, each exists in one of several states:


Maintainers operate under a code of conduct which defines GENUKI's standards of operation. In so doing, maintainers also possess a set of rights and responsibilities.

Legal Issues

GENUKI is a charitable trust constituted by a deed and its property ("the trust fund") is administered and managed by the Trustees.

The Trustees hold the trust fund and its income upon trust to apply them:

Note that the trust fund is largely notional, and GENUKI's property is essentially intellectual and reflected in the GENUKI website.

The legal consequences of publishing information on a website can be complex and a number of different UK and EU laws govern aspects of website design and content. Publication of information on GENUKI or any other website can create both civil and criminal liability. Civil liability issues are prevalent, and GENUKI maintainers need to be careful about copying text, images and other material from third parties which are covered by copyright. Moreover, note that copyright infringement or breaches of data protection law can also give rise to criminal liability.

Maintainers must:

The Intellectual Property Office provides a useful set of lessons and links on all the types of intellectual property; copyright and trademarks being examples relevant to GENUKI. A good example of the marking of intellectual property is used on Colin Hinson's Yorkshire pages.

The following (non-exhaustive) list highlights those areas of law which are of some concern to GENUKI maintainers:

Detailed knowledge of most of the above legislation is unlikely to be required by maintainers. However, specific legislation designed to help and protect readers and users of websites places special obligations upon the GENUKI Trustees and maintainers, and the laws that are most relevant to GENUKI maintainers are those concerning copyright, accessibility and data protection.

Maintainer Support

The job of maintaining a section on the GENUKI website can be intimidating to a newcomer, and occasionally quite demanding during periods of high activity. However, help is available for maintainers and the following sub-sections exist to provide support for the new maintainer.

If you are having problems, or need to ask a question about the maintenance work you are doing, you can use the website search engine - somebody may already have answered your question. And, if you can't yet find your way around the website to reach the information, try using the website search engine until you become more familiar with the structure.

The maintainers, as a body, possess considerable knowledge and experience of the maintenance job, and are keen to share their experience with new maintainers. One subject which might be of interest to a new maintainer is that of the software needed by a maintainer - there is a section on the experience of current maintainers of freeware, shareware and commercial software packages which could prove useful.

The spider is a tool that will help you correct errors in your pages and improve their adherence to the GENUKI standards; try looking at the most recent spider report, and find out about the spider by following the links in the statistics section.

If you'd like to contact another maintainer, you can do so via the maintainers mailing list (see below) which is promulgated to all maintainers. Private exchanges can take place with other maintainers, just use the list of section allocations which shows who is responsible for maintenance on the GENUKI website.

Finally, a new maintainer will almost certainly be contacted by the many readers of GENUKI who will report problems, seek help, provide new information, and even offer to help. Responding to such queries is a normal part of a maintainer's job and there is a section on how to deal with errors, problem reports, and complaints.


It's important to stay in touch with the GENUKI system administrator, Trustees and other maintainers. Doing so means that a maintainer will hear about and take part in discussions about the future direction and policy of GENUKI. It's also the way that the system administrator can remind maintainers of the regular tasks they need to undertake, and provide notice of impending changes and outages.

Creating and updating web pages that are useful to readers, and contain current county and parish information calls for communication with GENUKI readers. It's often the case that our readers provide new information about our counties and parishes, and also let us know about the inevitable problems and errors on our pages.

In addition to communicating with readers of the GENUKI website it's also important to communicate with readers and potential readers via alternative mechanisms they find most convenient and natural. Some of our readers are users of Facebook and GENUKI has established an identity on Facebook for the purpose of communicating with Facebook users.

These sub-sections provide guidance on how to keep in touch with other GENUKI volunteers, and the GENUKI readership.

Maintenance Tasks

The work involved in maintaining a section of GENUKI is immense but can often be rewarding and enjoyable. Maintainers have found that the work involved can be minimised by taking a structured approach to keeping folders, files and other records up to date.

A new maintainer can benefit from the experience of others by using their advice to deal with uploading files, managing folders and files, and developing county and parish pages. For a maintainer just starting the role, there are example county and parish pages to copy and modify. There's also a short tutorial on how to produce standards compliant and presentable web pages quickly and easily without having to become an expert in HTML. However, in many cases a new maintainer will find him/herself taking over a county which already has a complete set of parish pages, so then the task will be mainly to do with adding content to such pages and adding subordinate information pages when appropriate, e.g., for transcripts of the parish's registers.

There's a useful section below contributed by Lou Mills on how to deal with War Memorials. Finally, there's a section below of guidance on how to deal with the issues arising from the changes that occurred in UK and Ireland county and parish definitions and boundaries over time.

The Gazetteer

The GENUKI gazetteer is a uniquely valuable element of the GENUKI website and it's the responsibility of maintainers to keep it historically useful to GENUKI readers. Not all county maintainers maintain the gazetteer for their county and it's possible to assign that responsibility to someone else.

The gazetteer is used to store the locations of many places mentioned in, or referred to by, GENUKI. This certainly includes parishes and towns, but could also include chapelries, hamlets and manors.

The gazetteer is supported by software which allows searching and display with a variety of options, e.g., look for nearby places. The output can be closely integrated with web pages on GENUKI to allow readers to link directly to the parish page resulting from a search.

This sub-section defines the format of gazetteer entries and how they combine to form the gazetteer database, and provides advice on how to create and modify entries. To aid maintainers, there is also a page of statistics which indicate which maintenance tasks are required.

The Church Database

Another uniquely valuable element of the GENUKI website is the church database. This is similar in principle to the gazetteer in that readers can search the database for specific churches and the results can be closely integrated with GENUKI parish pages. Not all county maintainers maintain the church database entries for their county and it's possible to assign that responsibility to someone else.

However, the church database allows considerably more information to be stored about a church than the gazetteer does about a parish.

This sub-section defines the format of church database entries and provides advice on how to create and modify entries. To aid maintainers, there is also a page of statistics which indicate which maintenance tasks are required. There's also a magazine article written by David Lindley, intended for use in FHS magazines, which explains the benefits of the church database and how users of GENUKI can become involved.

Statistics and Error Reports

GENUKI web pages are analysed automatically by a program called the spider which produces statistics, and detects broken links, redirects and other problems. The information produced by the spider will be of use to GENUKI maintainers in identifying faults and possible problems with their pages.

The most recent spider report is available as a normal web page, but if a more up to date report is needed, it can be refreshed by invoking the spider cgi script.

The spider report includes, for each section:

A short explanation of how the spider works is also available. And for those who need to direct the spider to avoid certain checks, there is an advanced guide.

Additionally, access statistics are available for GENUKI pages stored on organised by month and with each month's data further broken down. Finally, page statistics are also available showing the number of GENUKI pages stored on hosts other than

Developer Resources

The website is managed by the system administrator. The pages in this section describe the scripts provided by the system administrator for use by maintainers, and a "to do" list in the event of major changes.

[Last updated at 12.11 on Friday, 9 January 2015, by Mel Lockie. 2015]
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