Local history

Scottish Borders Archives and Local History Centre arranged for the poor law registers in their archive to be digitised and Borders Family History Society is transcribing core information from the digitised registers. The core information transcribed comprises names, place of birth, residential address, names of children, date of application, age or date of birth, and in some cases, date of death, and we've saved it in spreadsheets.

We wanted to show where paupers lived on a contemporary map of Jedburgh, and to see whether particular localities were especially poor, in comparison with wealthier areas. We've transcribed the core information exactly as it's written, but that's not the end of the process. In the case of Jedburgh, the Poor Law Inspector did not record the town name of Jedburgh, so that has to be added for Jedburgh addresses. For Melrose, the inspector abbreviated many road names (often in different ways) and they need to be manually expanded. The geo-coding web tool has limitations and we need to cater for them. For example unrecognised addresses need to be removed or substituted with the modern address and that's a lot more work.

Starting with the ExtMap web page, we added the map for Jedburgh as a layer by adding it as a service, stating its web address and ticking it as a layer.

There's a limit of 1,000 set by the Yahoo geo-coder over the number of addresses that can be used in a data set, so we've split the data into five sets corresponding to each of our published volumes and used a different colour for each, and we've removed addresses far from the Jedburgh area, as they wouldn't show up on the map, for example, those in the central belt, western and Highland Scotland, and England.

When saving the KML file, rather than using the default filename supplied, we've given it the same name as the spreadsheet from which it's generated because it's easier to identify the relevant file later, and if we find problems in the KML generated, it's easier to locate the error.

We want this map representation to be available on our website so that it is dynamically searchable.

We have sets of data for other areas of the Borders, notably Melrose, Galashiels, Bowden, Drumelzier, Morebattle but the lack of geo-referenced maps for these areas will hold us back.

We want to thank the National Library and Visualising Urban Geography project for their support.