Thoughts of a novice!
Enzo, a volunteer who has joined us recently, provides some initial fedback on his MHMS experiences:
A total stranger to the world of Microsoft Office and the way records are entered and sorted into being, I spied a volunteer position at the Regency Town House on a trawl of the net. With a few emails exchanged, I met Nick Tyson for an informal interview. He told me about the MyHouseMyStreet project and soon I began my introduction into the how’s and why’s of data entry.
Excel was a little challenging at first but, with a few hiccups along the way, I was soon happily scouring data out of directories and census materials, collecting surnames and forenames, birthplaces and dates of birth, marital status, occupations, relations and resident staff.
Digging deep into the history of selected Brighton & Hove streets has been fascinating. Seeing the fluctuations between each census, the rise and fall in prosperity, the distinctions of being an owner, a lodger or a boarder, of the young being considered scholars or not! The social and professional realities of those long dead now mean so much more to me than the mass of words and figures I originally saw on the screen.
The treasure from my genealogical searching was often masked by comedic transcription errors: towns that have never been, words that legibility forgot. The translation of material from scrawl to screen sometimes obvious but not always!
What have I taken from it all? A new understanding of both the local and the national scene over the last 200 years; a historic perspective gradually blossoming, via the apparent tedium typically associated with executing data entry. Yes, tedium is not an experience I have felt when working on the project, due to the live and pertinent stories, both professional and personal, that have come through the information keyed into the system.
My efforts, merged with those of many others, has been woven together in a phantasmagorical manipulation of html to produce the website you are intently clicking through and reading from right now! I hope you enjoy!