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The Society's World Wide Web Site

Barwicker No.56
December 1999

Since April 1998, the Society has been using the internet to make available some of its information about the history of the parish and to make contact with people who are interested in the parish or local history in general. Among the objectives of the society are the promotion of learned and educational interest in the history and heritage of the area and the publication of local history. The world wide web has helped to achieve these objectives.

The Society's World Wide Web Site The Society's World Wide Web Site This article outlines what information has been made available on the internet and what its effect has been. For those uncertain about what this involves, the intern et is a term used to describe the way in which computers are linked together (in part by telephone lines) right across the world. The World Wide Web describes a method devised to enable different computers, large and small, to be able to link and pass information together in a common way. The information can be in the form of type text, video and still pictures and even sound. The Society's information has not, as yet, been in video or sound.

In addition to the World Wide Web, the Society has made contact with people using electronic mail (email). Since starting, about 1,800 people have 'visited' the site. Currently there are about 100 visits to the site each month. We know this because there is a counter which records the number of times the opening page of the site is sent to other computers.

The site has information on the Society, its meetings, publications and activities including research interests. There is also information about the parish, including where to find a map which shows where it is, and a brief account of the history of the parish. The publications section lists all items published in the previous 55 editions of The Barwicker. At present there are in addition fifteen articles from the Barwicker which can be read on the site. These articles are backed up by photographs, plans and maps relating to them. In addition, there are photographs, drawings, plans and maps of general interest on the site. Altogether, these visual stimulants amount to 59 items.

In order to encourage contact with users of the site, there is a guestbook in which visitors can type messages and there is a method of sending e-mail to the Society. There are about six e-mails sent every month to the Society. As well as items published in the Barwicker, there is some factual information which has been made available. This is too factual to be published in the Barwicker but is of interest to students and people with family ties to the parish. There are files containing, the names and occupations of heads of households from the 1891 Census and a transcription of the parish's Rate Book for 1886 sorted into alphabetical order.

There is considerable scope for more of this information to be produced for the site. This, and other information, has been compiled for the use of local schools using the internet. In the case of the Rate Book, one primary and two local secondary schools have been supplied with the basic data for them to sort and use in their own way.

One item which we have experimented with, so far unsuccessfully. is the inclusion of a plea for information headed 'Where are they now'!'. We have asked for information on the whereabouts of the painting of the maypole by WR Robinson published in Colman's History of Barwick-in-Elmet and the oriel window which was sold and removed from Kiddal Hall in the 1920's. We have also sought the whereabouts of copies of the Burlend novel "Amy Thornton". As more people use the internet so we hope that one day we will have a reply to these questions.

Has the use of the internet been a success? We think that it undoubtedly has. We know from e-mail received that many users have found the site of considerable interest. Most users are those who were born in the parish and have moved elsewhere or are descendents of parishioners. Others have no connection but have come across the site by accident. For instance, one user from the United States e-mailed the society in the first few weeks of the start of the site. He had searched for a reference to maypoles and found an article from the Barwicker in the series called Yorkshire Maypoles. The article referred to a maypole in the Dales and made comment on the need for funding to replace the existing maypole. The e-mail was to say that he wanted to make a contribution towards the replacement.

Users that we know of come from many parts of the world. These include Norway, the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. It is clear that those who were born in the village and living far away. find great pleasure in seeing familiar scenes and reading some of the history of the parish. For those who trace their ancestry back to the parish, there is great interest in seeing what the parish looks like and reading about its past. Contacts have been established through the site with the Westwood family in Canada. As a result the society has been given what may be the second oldest photograph taken in the parish showing Albert Westwood and the windmill at Barwick (see 'The Barwicker' No. 51).

Through the site, contact has been made with others interested in local history including someone studying A-level in archaeology who carried out a project at Potterton, an aerial photographer and local historians in Whitkirk. Through the latter it has been established that the 18th century Barwick practice of changing bell ropes every year (Barwicker No. 54) was not unusual as Whitkirk did the same.


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