Reference Centre, Planning, Website Review
Kent Archaeological Society
This review, does not include a review of the academic website of the Kent Archaelogical Society, which can be found at http://www.kentarchaeology.ac.
Ted Connell, the fellow who instituted this website, had a vision of what an archaeological county website should contain. What an outstanding service he has performed in producing the KAS research website. If you have ancestry in Kent, England prior to 1900 you definitely need to have this website amongst your bookmarks or in your 'favourites' folder.
A tremendous debt of thanks must go to Mr. Connell and all of the volunteers who have donated their time in transcribing and preparing the society's research material for the internet. Although the Society would like to convert each and every user of its' website to a KAS member or purchaser of their publications, the Society has graciously kept the information on this site entirely free to access and to use. There are no hidden gimmicks and no hidden fees here.
The KAS website contains hard data in the form of transcripts and extracts of church and churchyard monumental inscriptions, a resource that is very difficult for a non-Uk based researchers to access; mediaeval and Tudor Wills from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (P.C.C.)and the Consistory Court of Canterbury (C.C.C.); the 1334/5 Kent Lay Subsidy; tithe commutation awards, which were carried out during the period of the 1830s through the 1840s; many photographs of churches and churchyards throughout Kent; and, a gazetteer of place names from the 1905-08 Ordnance Survey, arranged by place name and by parish.
The largest undertaking on this site is the move by the volunteers towards transcribing or digitizing, for the internet, the hundreds of historic volumes that were published by the society commencing back in 1858. There are a number of articles already on site. Bear in mind that this is an 'archaelogical' society. Consequently, the articles that have appeared in the journals are primarily concerned with ancient artifacts found at archaeological digs. However, all good archaelogical societies do not overlook the fact that family papers and collections also constitute historically valuable items and such is the case, here.
Although there is no search facility directly on this site, instructions can be found by clicking on the link to Churchyard M.I.s. On that page will be found another link at the top of the page, highlighted in yellow, that will demonstrate how to use "Google" to search the entire KAS research website. This search facility does work quite well and shouldn't be dismissed without a trial. The search also works for searching the journal publications and the Wills collection. The home page could be more aesthetically pleasing but, as it stands, each link on the home page goes directly to an index page for the resource listed. It's highly functional and that is just what a genealogy research site should be!
To determine what has been added, recently, to a particular section of the KAS website, check at the top of the index page for that section for a little one-word link called "Updated". Next to that link will be the date of the last uploads to the internet. Clicking on that link will take one to a listing at the bottom of that page that sets out precisely what was added during the last upload. Again, I appreciate that the update list is accessible via a very fast, simple, yet, functional facility.
Personally, I visit the KAS website at least once per week and check all of the "Updated" links. Now that this site is entering a more mature phase of development, one may have to wait several months before a new MI, Will, journal article or tithe communtation award appears that holds relevant interest. However, we have to remember that this site is fed solely by volunteers and, so, we must be patient. If you have Kent ancestors you just cannot do without making repeat visits to this site. If you are considering setting up a county archaeological society website I highly recommend adopting this model. A hearty and well-deserved "Well done" to Mr. Connell and his volunteers! And, on behalf of Kent ancestry seekers everywhere, I thank you for the dedication and vision you have demonstrated in producing and maintaining the KAS research library.