Untapped history - can you help?
I've got an idea to bring some more HK history out into the light. I can't do it alone, so I'm asking for your help.
The old Hong Kong Jurors Lists contain lots of valuable information. But, they're hidden away, and not very easy to search. We can fix those problems, and at the same time make its easier to spot new patterns in the information:
- Here's the 1894 Jurors List in its current format, and
- here's a section of that List in the new format.
Read on for more detail about the What, Why, and How - or skip straight to the end and sign up!
What are the Jurors Lists?
Each year the government published a list of men eligible to serve as jurors in the courts. For each person they showed the full name, business title, employer, and residential address. HKGRO has copies from 1894 to 1941.
They're useful tools to answer a variety of questions about old Hong Kong.
eg If you're looking for a person, you can find out their full name, when they were in Hong Kong, where they worked, what they did, and where they lived. Because we have almost 50 years of lists, you can also see how people moved around over that time.
Similarly for buildings, you can confirm building names and addresses, which years a building existed, and what type of people lived there. (eg was it a private residence, or a certain company's staff quarters, or ...?)
Why will the new format be better?
Wider reach: Currently you have to know about the HKGRO service before you can search through the lists. The new format will be on the open web, so anyone using Google to searching for an ancestor's details, for example, will now be able to find them.
Faster search: If you search for a word, eg Jardine, in the current format, it tells you which years' lists contain that word. But then you need to check each list visually to find where the word is. In the new format you can use your browser's search feature to take you straight to every occurrence of the word you are looking for.
Uncover new patterns: If you look at the sample in the new format, you can choose any column to sort the table. eg sort by Company to get a feel for which companies were most widely represented in a given year, suggesting a ranking for companies at that time.
More history: The more easily-accessible information there is available, the more history we'll hear from people that are searching. Start the snowball rolling!
How will this work?
I'm looking for people to help type in one page of the list into a spreadsheet (I'll supply a template). Then I'll gather the results and format them into a sortable list like the sample shown earlier.
It took me 50 minutes, say an hour, to type in that first page sample. So the simple help I'd need is around an hour of your time to type in a page.
The 1894 list is 11 pages long. If there are five of us each able to type in a page a week, that would take two weeks to finish.
More people, faster to finish.
And it gets easier. eg the 1895 list looks worse, as it is one page longer. BUT, around three-quarters of its names are the same as 1894 list. Overall it will be much quicker to finish.
You can help type in a page? Great! Please leave a comment below (or send me an email), and I'll be in touch.
Got a bigger group (History club? Classes learning typing?) that could tackle a whole year's list, even better!
Know anyone that might be interested to join in? Please let them know about what we're doing.
And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.