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Internet Explorer 8 Bug

No_ieAre you having problems viewing web pages on this site or on other sites when using Internet Explorer 8? If so, you have hit the "Internet Explorer 8 display problem."

Luckily, Microsoft has produced an easy fix: click on the Compatibility Mode icon or read the explanation below.

A half dozen or so blog readers have reported that they cannot read this blog correctly online. I suspect there are more readers with the same problem. In every case, those who reported the problem were using Internet Explorer 8. We have a bit of advice for those readers: "Don’t use Internet Explorer 8!"

In fact, Microsoft won’t call it a bug but the company does admit that many sites that work perfectly in Internet Explorer 7 will not display properly in Internet Explorer 8, unless you use Microsoft’s "workaround." When Microsoft upgraded to Internet Explorer 8, they broke something that used to work properly in Internet Explorer 7. The same sites also will display properly in Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and other web browsers.  If that’s not a bug, I don’t know what is.

ZDnet has compiled a list of 2,400 major web sites that cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer 8. You can see the list at (that list is old; more sites than that have since been discovered). Yet, every one of those sites displays properly in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and even in Internet Explorer 7.

Genealogists can appreciate that the giant web site of reports similar issues. Many of the pages on do not display properly when using Internet Explorer 8 but do display properly when using Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox. You can read more at

Luckily, Microsoft has produced an easy fix.

Compat_view Any time you find a web page that does not display properly in Internet Explorer 8, click on the "Compatibility Mode" icon. That is the icon just to the right of the address (URL) bar, just to the left of the refresh icon. The Compatibility Mode icon looks a bit like a page that has been torn in half. You can see an image of it to the right.

You can learn more on Microsoft’s web site at (click on "Compatibility View".)

You can also find a few thousand more reports of Internet Explorer 8’s compatibility problems at

Problems like this help explain why Internet Explorer’s market share has slowly eroded from over 90% to approximately 67%. I suggest you do what I did: switch to Firefox and get rid of the bugs.

Actually, Firefox isn’t perfect but it is a lot better than Internet Explorer 8. It works faster (and Chrome is even faster than Firefox), has fewer bugs and fewer security issues. You can obtain the free Firefox web browser at

Some people prefer the new Chrome web browser produced by Google. It has fewer features but is very secure and runs much faster than Internet Explorer and somewhat faster than Firefox. You can download the free Chrome web browser at

Our thanks to Dick Eastman for allowing us to reproduce this post

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Volunteering in a family history library

Many organisations are seeking volunteer help at present, and even the Government recognised the vital role that volunteers play when they launched their ‘Big Society’ campaign in June.

The Society of Genealogists is currently looking for volunteers who can come into their library in London to help scan some of their vast collection of family history  records. You would need to be able to visit the library on a regular basis (either a half day or whole day per week) to help operate the Society’s scanners. Full training will be given and although little technical knowledge is required a basic familiarity with computers would be an advantage. If you would like to help in this vital work please email the Head of Library Services on with details of when you would be available.

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PRONI online wills project shows how it should be done

Family Historians should be very impressed with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireleand’s (PRONI) project to provide and index and images of wills from 1858. It’s a model for others to follow and a very good reason for suggesting that the historic post 1858 probate records for England and Wales should not be under the jurisdiction of the Courts Service but rather transferred to an agency that knows how to look after and make accessible popular records used by genealogists. However given that there are over 20 million wills held by the Court service I guess it will be some time before these  are all made availeble online.

The PRONI website application provides a free fully searchable index to the will calendar entries for the three District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry, with the facility to view the entire will calendar entry for each successful search.  The database covers the period 1858-1919 and 1922-1943.  Part of 1921 has been added, with remaining entries for 1920-1921 to follow in the near future. 

Digitised images of entries from the copy will books covering the period 1858-1900 are now available online, allowing users to view the full content of a will.  93,388 will images are now available to view.

The Society of Genealogists’ online guide to using Probate Records is avilaible on the SoG webiste

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Burke’s peerage updates in the Society of Genealogists’ family history library

Family historians with aristocratic ancestry will know how useful Burke’s Peerage can be as a finding aid. However the printed version can become dated very quickly as people mentioned in its pages have children, are married, divorced or die.

Society of Genealogists’ member Nicholas Newington-Irving has therefore produced 12 volumes of updates to the 1999 and 2003 editions of Burke’s Peerage that list over 57,000 births, deaths and marriages that have occurred between 1999 and 2010. The information has been gleaned from collections of newspaper cuttings in the possession of the compiler.

An online index to these updates has now been made available for the first time on the Society of Genealogists’ Members Area. This contains the surname and forename of the person concerned, together with a note of which volume and page number the updates can be found in. Non members can do a free name search here but it is necessary to become a member to view the full references.

This is just one of a growing number of family history resources to be found on the Society’s Members Area.

Tim Lawrence

Head of Library Services

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Boyd’s Marriage Index (Treasures Tuesday 23rd November 2010)

Boyd’s Marriage Index is an index to English marriages taken from copies of parish marriage registers, Bishop’s transcripts and marriage licences, from the period 1538 to 1840 (when statutory registration began). It was principally the work of Percival Boyd, MA, FSA, FSG (1866-1955) and his staff.

All English counties are covered, though none completely, and the periods indexed vary according to the copies of records which were readily available. Registers from over 4,300 parishes have been indexed, a total of over 7 million names. Well over a million of these names relate to the London and Middlesex areas.

Click here to find out more about this and other Treasures of the Society.

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