A peep behind the curtains
I'm often asked what the most popular parts of the F&DLHS website are. It varies enormously. In general, the census summaries, newspapers and photographs all get a great deal of usage, though a lot of our publications regularly feature in the 'top 40'. The Newspaper archive is our core asset.
Our visitors are generally doing family history, but more and more local people are investigating the history of their location now that the word is spreading. We are very pleased that local historians are using us too. We have a few visitors whose only interest is in the Borley Rectory Affair, but why not: it is part of our history. Most of our visits come from the UK and USA, with the commonwealth countries coming a poor second.
We always get a lot of interest in Vernon Clarke's two wonderful 'Historical' walking guides of the Stour, Chelmer and Blackwater valleys. The publication on Emigration has obviously struck a chord with ex-pats and is getting a lot of use at the moment, along with the article on World-War 2 aircraft crashes. The article with all the press-cuttings about threshing machines is always popular during term-time, so seems to have got onto the syllabus somewhere. The articles on Cavendish and Glemsford are always popular. The oddest usage is for the article on bull-baiting, which seems to be a accident of people searching for something far more sinister on the internet.
It is not generally known that the webmasters can see the Google search-phrases that are resulting in visits to the site. This makes fascinating reading and occasionally gets us scratching our heads in wonderment.
Another curiosity is in tracking usage from particular sources. Recently the Met Office sucked practically every file off the site, as did Braintree District Council. I suspect a keen family historian in his lunch hour, munching sandwiches at his terminal and enjoying the bandwidth. I'd like to think that the Met Office had woken up to the amazing accounts of extreme weather in the local newspapers in the nineteenth century that, had they occurred today, would have us all shaking our heads and muttering about global warming.