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A comprehensive guide let down by sloppy editing
on 18 April 2008
This is essentially the 3rd edition of 'Army Records for Family Historians'. The 2nd edition was published in 1999, when the National Archives was the Public Record Office. At that time the online catalogue was in its infancy and no documents had been digitised.
The new edition brings the previous edition up to date, but this has been done in a rather haphazard fashion. The book gives the impression that very little copy editing has taken place and there are many errors and inconsistencies of style. Some examples follow:
In the Acknowledgements on the title page verso, 'which has led me' appears as 'which has lead me'.
On page 9, after giving the address of the National Archives, the following sentence appears: 'The Office is open from 09:00-17:00 Mondays and Fridays, 09:00-19:00 on Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00-17:00 on Wednesday and 09:30-17:00 on Saturday.' Firstly, what is 'The Office'? It would seem that the initial sentence giving the address originally referred to The Public Record Office, and the second sentence has not been changed to 'The Archives are open ...' to reflect this. Secondly, why are the days Monday and Friday in plural form and the other days in singular form? This is sloppy editing.
On the same page, there is reference to Kew Gardens station, which is said to be on 'London Transport's District Line'. London Transport was replaced by Transport for London some time ago.
On page 47, reference is made to Kevin Asplin's Roll of The Imperial Yeomanry, Scottish Horse and Lovat Scouts who fought in the (second) Boer War, published in two volumes, but no mention of the freely-available website that contains the same information.
At the time the earlier edition was written, the Soldiers' Documents in WO97 for 1760-1854 could be searched using a computerised index at the PRO (as it then was) but these records have now been incorporated into the online catalogue. That these records can be searched using the catalogue is mentioned on pages 44-45, but in a case study on page 59, it is stated that there is 'an index available on computer' and it would seem that this section has not been revised.
There are some dubious entries in the list of dates on page 156. The date of the start of the Crimean War is given as 14 September 1854, which is the date that the British Army landed in the Crimea, but Britain declared war on Russia on 28 March. The next entry: 1854, 25 October - 1857, 6 December: Charge of the Light Brigade, Battle of Balaclava, is rather mystifying. The Crimean War was over by 6 December 1857, and presumably this date refers to the Third Battle of Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny.
On page 162, there is a reference to the Public Record Office, rather than The National Archives, and the title of Amanda Bevan's book is given as 'Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office', although the publisher is correctly given as TNA! There is a further reference to 'The Office' on this page.
Capitalisation of titles in the list of references on pages 163-164 is inconsistent.
These are just the errors that jumped out at me on a first reading, but I am sure there must be many more.
In summary, although this is an up-to-date and comprehensive book for the family historian with army ancestors, it is seriously let down by numerous minor errors, and would have benefited from more extensive copy editing and proofreading.