Who will want a copy of your records?

Having completed your survey, and have it ready to show others, you should now consider who will want a copy. You don’t want to keep this valuable information to yourself after all that hard work!

First and foremost, however, you should be aware that whoever you “give” it to, the copyright for any publication, be it in printed or electronic form, automatically remains yours. You do not need to register a copyright. It just is yours. That’s the law. It is, however always a good idea to place a copyright statement on anything you produce in this way, along the lines of:  Copyright ©1997 Parish Chest Ltd  (The copyright symbol is available in your word processor, etc.).

Do not think that you are going to make a fortune by selling copies of your work. You won’t. It is much better to accept that you did all this hard work as a labour of love, and make it freely available for use by others. Work on the principle that if you can help someone in their researches, then that person will help someone else – and eventually it might come round full circle to you.

Your work will be used by many people in the future, probably for hundreds of years. Doesn’t that make it all worthwhile?

There are several important people to whom you should give a copy of your work. All of them will like a printed copy, and some of them may also like a copy on disk.

The vicar or priest in charge of the church

He will find the information extremely useful indeed. Very often he will have people telephone him, or just turn up on his doorstep from all over the world, asking where there ancestors were buried. An indexed record will really help him!

The Churchwarden of the church

The Churchwarden is the person who is legally responsible for the fabric of the church and the graveyard. Do make sure that he/she also has a separate copy.

The local Library

Many people undertaking research automatically start at the local library. The librarian will see his/her job as being much more than stamping books borrowed to read at home! These people are experienced professionals who just love to have archive material deposited with them.

The County Library

The County Library will have an archives department.  A copy for them is an absolute must.

The County Archives Office

The County Archives Office hold records of just about everything that there is relating to the county, and do a fine job of helping people search for information. Your MI records should certainly be amongst this information.

The Local Family History Society

The family history society for the county will certainly want a copy of your work. Bear in mind that many researchers start at the county family history society for information. The society may well have a procedure for selling copies of MI records to its members or other interested people. These publications are usually very inexpensive indeed, and are a small source of income to the society. You will need to make the decision here whether or not to allow the Society to reproduce your work for sale, or whether they should have just the one copy for their own records. The choice is yours. Whichever way, the copyright is still yours, even if the Society reproduces your work for sale to others. You could of course ask for a “royalty” payment for each copy sold, but frankly, it isn’t worth the effort. It would be better to allow them to make a little money for themselves.

You may also find that in addition to the main county Family History Society, there may be a local one too. There may also be a local historical society who would like a copy of your records.

Publishing on the Internet

You may have your own private Web Page on which you can publish your records in detail. Learning to write a web page really isn’t that difficult.  The information you have can then be accessed immediately and easily by anyone with access to a computer and the Internet. If you do publish in this way, then let the “owner” of the relevant county GENUKI pages know that you have done it, and provide them with a copy of the html files too. You are not immortal. When you, or your computer, finally gives up, then a copy will still be available to be placed elsewhere on the Internet.