Improving Place Pages



The majority of information for researchers following up detailed research is to be found on place pages, particularly  the county and parish pages. The relevant information about that particular county or parish   is usually presented in the form of a number of short paragraphs or bullet points each dealing with a different topic. A county page should not contain information related just to specific parishes nor should the material in parish pages simply repeat general information at the county level.

Place Pages

All place pages at county level and almost all at parish level are already created within GENUKI's structure. If you need to create a parish page (for example because there is some need to revise the references to existing parishes then see How to create a place page.

Associated plain pages

Once the information on any topic becomes lengthy you should consider creating a separate plain/topic page usually on one aspect of that topic. You can see How to create a new plain/topic page and link it to the appropriate place.

This can then record more detailed information  on that topic in relation to the county or parish. Where there are are detailed transcriptions or other extensive material kept within GENUKI then these should always be on plain/topc pages.

Handy Hints

David Lindley has provided a useful guide to Maintaining a Parish. 

Parishes and Counties

Parish nodes are the main building block of GENUKI.

On a parish page that is newly created or on one that has not had much attention you will find at least the following:

  • a map in the top centre with with the location of the parish or its boundary.;
  • a list of topic links around the map (consisting of a few of the standard topics);
  • entries automatically generated under the following topic headings
    • Church
    • Description and Travel
    • Maps

The aim is to improve the range (more topics) and depth (more entries) on those pages particularly as well as on pages with more extensive content.

Maintainers will normally deal with the county as well as the parish. Typically these county pages are better developed with more information. 

Types and Sources of Information

Introduction and Gazetteer 

Most place pages include a short introductory excerpt from an old gazetteer. These have often been entered using bulk processes in previous formats for GENUKI.

If you are find with parish pages that are lacking such a quotation and have located some suitable texts, or indeed have any other need to include quoted material on your pages, make sure that either the copyright has lapsed or that you have permission from the copyright holder. Ideally the quotation will be from the 18th or 19th century, so copyright should not be a problem. For further guidance on this subject, please see help and advice on copyright.

Adding and expanding Topics

Consider what information topics to include within a town or parish page by going through the list of standard topic headings adopted by GENUKI from the LDS Family History Library. For each subject heading, try to obtain links to information elsewhere, and detailed citations of relevant books or articles, etc. Of particular relevance to a parish or town will be:

  • Books and (printed or online) articles about the town or parish
  • Information about the location of records e.g. old parish registers, court records, census returns etc.
  • Bibliographic details of any published transcripts or indexes e.g. census indexes, monumental inscriptions, indexes to testamentary records, etc.
  • For out of copyright books and journals, links to any full texts in Google Books, the Internet Archive or HathiTrust
  • Details of local cemeteries
  • History of the local church
  • Biographical material about local inhabitants
  • Genealogical accounts of families that originated in the parish
  • Local directories and gazetteers
  • Local history publications
  • Local and national newspaper websites and archives - particularly the British Newspaper Archive
  • Conservation Area Appraisals (detailed well-illustrated reports of the architecture and history of an area, often just a parish, or part of a parish, available on many local council websites)

In addition to county and parish pages there are lots of pages on particular topics in GENUKI. These are used when the information on a particular topic is quite lengthy and allow further information to be given about the topic without compromising the compact nature of a county or parish page (topic pages are also used at higher levels, e.g. national and above, to expand on subjects there). Examples of topic pages include:

  • Listings of old place names
  • Book indexes
  • A detailed list (with addresses) of archives in an area
  • Historical directories (information or even transcripts)
  • A detailed account of the history of a parish through the ages
  • List of surnames in a graveyard, or in a book, or other source
  • Transcript of a parish or county history (must be out of copyright)
  • Transcripts of Census Records and Parish Registers
  • Further guidance on an unusual source, e.g. an unofficial register of deaths
  • Specially written articles, e.g. on particular families or historical events

All of the following categories of information could appear on place pages:

  • Books about the county, its history, people etc. Modern guide books are particularly nice listed under "Description & Travel" since they are usually in print and are often well illustrated. Other books about the county can be placed under the appropriate headings, for example "Bibliography", "History", "Social Life and Culture" etc.
  • Information about the location of records e.g. old parish registers, court records, census returns etc. (under headings such as "Church Records", "Census Returns" etc.)
  • Bibliographic details of any published transcripts or indexes e.g. census indexes, monumental inscriptions, indexes to testamentary records, etc.
  • For out of copyright books and Journals, links to any full texts in Google Books, the Internet Archive or HathiTrust
  • Information about local family history societies and possibly details of their publications etc. Check the list of Family History Societies to see if your local society already has a home page. If it does then you can place a link to it under the heading "Societies". Otherwise you may like to contact the society and invite it to become involved in GENUKI. Under no circumstances whatsoever should you advertise addresses for societies without first receiving permission to do so.
  • Local History Societies - Local History Magazine have a list of societies arranged by county.
  • Details of county coverage in major subscription sites - FindMyPast, Ancestry and TheGenealogist.co.uk
  • Links to any online resources about the county, e.g. complementary resources to GENUKI which fill other niches e.g.

The list could go on and on, but hopefully this will be enough to get the ideas rolling.

Seeking improvement

The list here really could go on and on and this is another area, as with parishes, where more volunteers can step in to help, sharing specialist knowledge on particular topics of interest to genealogists. Generally speaking, the bulk of the work in creating informative parish pages is taken up in research, finding material to put on the pages. The content management system now used by GENUKI (Drupal) has greatly eased the task of creating and editing the actual web pages.

Good ways of coming up with ideas for the content of the pages are:

  • Look at existing pages for other counties and see what other people have done and what sort of information they have decided to include.
  • Read through the list of subject headings and see how many ideas this triggers!
  • Search for the county and/or parishes in library catalogues. This can also be a good way of gathering full bibliographic references for books you want to mention on your pages.
  • Search for information about your county and/or its parishes in Internet search engines, e.g. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or Dogpile, and major genealogy website listings such as Cyndi's List (UK and Ireland section).

As a final tip, try not to make your pages too big (this applies to any pictures as well). A page should rarely be more than 30K long, otherwise it may be difficult for some people to download.

Getting support and help

Parish pages are an obvious area for splitting the information gathering and page editing task among many people, so think about how others could help you with your task.

When thinking about developing a county it is always worth bearing in mind how other volunteers could help you, perhaps splitting the task between two or more people (perhaps on geographical or topical lines), or having a single person co-ordinate the bulk of the pages, with others offering specialist knowledge in particular geographical areas or topics of interest. If you live outside the county could you find someone on the spot to help you find out information about unusual local records and other resources? It is also a good idea to think of all the things you would like to do for a county, even if you don't personally have the time to achieve them all. Then if someone contacts you asking how they can help you with the pages will have already thought about it. Make sure that you provide proper credit in all relevant pages to the person or people who have created or helped with the content of, these pages, such as the transcriber of a text, the compiler of an index, etc.

There are various ways of finding volunteers to help with pages, all of which could be tried:

  • Put a note on the county page inviting volunteers to help, or have a link to another page expanding on how people can help, and maybe also sketching out long-term plans. In the case of an ambitious plan to obtain lots of information for your pages, see if you can find someone to help manage a project to do this. (See for example the current set of projects listed near the head of the Devon page.)
  • Send regular email messages to an appropriate mailing list or newsgroup for the area concerned.
  • Write articles about your pages for the relevant family history society magazine. Explain their aims, current state of development, long-term plans, and how other people can help.

All of these are likely to be more successful if you have thought quite carefully about what you would like to see done to pages and how other people could help you achieve that. Have a brain-storming session, and look at other counties within GENUKI to get lots of ideas. Then when you send out a call for help (a page for volunteers, message to a mailing list, or an article for the family history society) mention these.