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Genealogy in Hertfordshire

Policy Statement

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime

Copyright Material

This site has been created to help people to carry out research into genealogy, family and local history linked to Hertfordshire. The approach used is to educate by example by demonstrating the wealth of information available and the varied sources it comes from, and by also showing the pitfalls awaiting the unwary.

To do this it is often necessary to quote from sources, in order to demonstrate the kind of information they contain, and the way they can be used, and this raises the question of copyright. For this reason the following "fair usage" rule is applied to the use of pictures, drawing, maps, reproduction of manuscript documents, and direct quotations.

(1) The source of any copyright material used will be identified where practical..

(2) Where appropriate a web page will be created - in the form of a review if relevant - describing the source, how it may be accessed, and the uses to which it might be put. The idea is to encourage the reader to want to access the source.

(3) For a typical reasonable sized local history book in copyright "fair usage" will normally be limited to no more than three illustrations or quotations of less than one page, and totalling no more than three pages. Significant extracts will only be done with the explicit permission of the copyright holder. 

(4) The idea is to educate genealogists by example - and as a result examples of a wide range of documents are being included. There is a "problem" with small items which have to be reproduced in their entirety if they are to be a satisfactory example. Virtually everything is potentially copyright - and I suspect that even a used bus ticket, or the writing on a milk bottle, is covered by the Act! In the case of much 20th century ephemera, including undated photographs, letters, advertisement handouts, etc., it is often impractical to fully identify the copyright holder (if any). In such cases details of possible source, etc., will be given as comprehensively as practical.

(5) In general scanned images (at least where copyright is involved) will be at a comparatively low resolution, so that anyone wanting to print them out, or enlarge them, will find they need to access the original source. In the case of out-of-copyright engravings and post cars where I have an original I am now placing larger images online (click on smaller image for bigger size). If you want to use these larger images see Note 7.

(6) If any copyright holder of material used in this way requests it, material for which they hold the copyright will be removed. I should make it clear that I make no claim which  invalidates any prior copyright or document holders existing rights.

(7) Where I own the copyright I am happy to allow material to be copied for non-commercial purposes as long as due acknowledgement to the site are given. As for any other request for information addressed to this site, there is a suggestion that a donation to charity would be appropriate.

Note: Where an image has been scanned or a document transcribed there are copyright issues associated with both the original image or document and the scanned image or transcribed text.

Where the original image or document is still in copyright I cannot give permission for further copying, even if I own the copyright of the digitised version, unless I have the permission of the original copyright holder to allow further copying. Unless I have specific information on the date of death of the original copyright holder I assume all books published in the last 100 years are covered by copyright.

Where the original image or document is out of copyright the person who makes and publishes the digital version effectively claims the copyright. I have no intention of claiming copyright on images or documents I do not own, and in such cases I assign ownership of the copyright to the owner of the document at the time. (This issue has been a matter of considerable concern to records offices, etc., and my policy means, for example, that the ownership of images of entries in a parish register remain with the owner of the original.)

What this all means in practice is that I can only give permission to use images of early postcards, antique prints, maps, and old documents where I owned the out-of-copyright originals at the time I made the scan.

(8) If you have any doubts, please tell me.

A Note on the Modern Photographs

In recent years I have started using photographs which I have taken myself. Such photographs may be used for non-commercial purposes as long a proper acknowledgement to the source is given, donations being appreciated. If required higher resolution images can be provided on request.

The Provision of Information from Web Sites

Many questions to this site come from people who have not yet used such services - or who have tried and failed. What they need is help and advice as to how to find and access the information, and in many cases beginners also need the assurance that the information they seek is there to be found.

The approach taken is education by example - encouraging them to use the most relevant services for themselves, and providing just enough information to demonstrate that further research would be worthwhile. For instance, if a beginner is looking for the parents of Tony Hancock and the answer is in a census my reply may take the form "If you look in the 1861 census you will find Tony Hancock living with his parents at Railway Cuttings, East Cheam" - leaving it to the questioner to look up details of the parents themselves. Wherever possible I will suggest further ways in which the questioner can make further advances - and in some cases I may already have discovered that the suggested avenues will be successful.

In deciding what information to quote, and what to leave to the questioner to follow up a lot depends on the source of the information. Some web sites, for example familysearch, FreeBMD and Access to Archives, provide information without charge, and encourage the free exchange of information. Now even the Victoria County History is online! In such cases there is no difficulty in quoting the information - but at the same time it is very simple for the questioner to look the information up themselves - so much depends on the context as, for example, more extensive quoting may allow me to plan out a more comprehensive programme of further research.

In addition a significant amount of information is available through commercial sites, such as Ancestry and Findmypast, with indexes and in some cases document images. In general paid-for information is supplied "for personal use only" and I would be breaking the contractual terms if I simply down-loaded information using my subscription and posted it in total "for free". My approach is to look at what is available, plot out a plan of research, and provide just enough information to encourage the person asking the question to look for more. [In some cases, such as census returns, there are multiple sources - and in such cases I will reference the general source - for census the census and year - and describe the options on a separate page.]


This site is for communicating historical information and names, addresses and personal information on living people will not normally be posted, unless they have indicated in some way that they are interested in exchanging information on genealogical or historical research. See The Policy on Questions relating to Living People.

Educational Use

Some of the people using this site are students at schools, universities, etc. preparing course work, project reports, etc., for assessment as part of a course.  Material from this site may be used AS LONG AS IT IS PROPERLY ACKNOWLEDGED. I will be quite prepared to advise examiners in any cases where material from this web site is passed off as the student's own work without acknowledgement.

Commercial Use

The information on this site is provided in the spirit of free exchange of information, and may not be used for commercial gain, without permission - when a suitable donation would be suggested. Where the copyright of the material on this site belongs to a third party. their permission must be sought for the reuse of that material.

A Note on Picture Images

For many old engravings, maps, documents and early postcards I own a copy and can supply a higher resolution image for publishing in your family history, etc. While no formal charge is made you will be reminded that a donation is a pleasant way of saying thank you.

Acknowledging Use of this Web Site

If you have a web site or blog and wish to direct people to this web site you may freely use the link www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk. If you want to direct them to a particular place page, for example Tring, you may use a link in the form www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk/links/tring.htm. Similar "safe" links can be provided on specific topics on request. Links directly to other pages may suffer from "link rot" when I make changes to the web site. If you actually want to include quotations or copies of pictures from this web site you must include a link back to this web site to acknowledge the source of the material.. As such a linkage suggests a common interest please contact this site using tell me - as it might be appropriate for me to include a return link to your web site.

May 2010   Minor changes plus note on picture images and educational use
September  2010   Minor editorial changes
February 2011   Acknowledging Use of this Web Site