The following is the text of the announcement of the Henry Project as it appeared in the soc.genealogy.medieval newsgroup and GEN-MEDIEVAL mailing list on 23 July 2001.


Announcing: THE HENRY PROJECT
(An experiment in a cooperative online database for scholarly medieval genealogy)

In the past, in discussions that have taken place on soc.genealogy.medieval/GEN-MEDIEVAL, some have suggested the possibility of having some sort of cooperative medieval genealogy database giving (hopefully) authoritative data on medieval families. It was obvious from those discussions that different individuals had some very different ideas as to the best way to proceed (or whether to proceed at all).

The project announced here is an experiment to test the feasibility of forming an online database of medieval genealogy through cooperative effort. Since databases based on the so-called "democratic" principle of "anybody submits anything that they want" have, in my opinion, been disasters, this will be an experiment in the "Editorial Board" type of approach.

SCOPE OF THE PROJECT

The subject matter of this experiment will be limited (at least at the beginning) to the following individuals:

Henry II, king of England (hence the name of the project), and all of his ancestors (and reputed ancestors) to the tenth generation (counting Henry as the first generation).

The choice of these individuals has involved some careful thought, and there are a number of reasons why I consider this choice to a good one:

1. The number of individuals is small enough that if the project turns out to be infeasible, the amount of time lost should not be excessive. Theoretically, there would be a maximum of a little over a thousand individuals. In fact, the combination of repeated ancestors and lines that fail due to lack of evidence makes the total number of individuals between one and two hundred. Concentrating on a relatively small number is a good way to test feasibility.

2. Henry II is early enough that he should be of interest as a possible ancestor to a large number of individuals.

3. The ancestors of Henry II show at least some variety (Continental Europe, Anglo-Saxon, Scottish), allowing for participation from individuals having different interests and areas of expertise.

RULES FOR SUBMISSION

1. Submissions should NOT be made to the list. Send submissions as an attached .txt (the preferred format) or .htm file with a cover letter clearly explaining the contents of the file. (If the submission is sent as text, it is also OK to include it at the bottom of the cover letter instead of as an attachment.) Submissions should be sent by e-mail to:

sbaldw@mindspring.com

I will convert pages received as text to html. Any attempts to send submissions to the project using attachments that are not in one of these two forms will be automatically deleted without being read.

The URL for the website (at least to start off) will be:

http://sbaldw.home.mindspring.com/hproject/henry.htm

2. Each "page" will consist of a web page based on a single person, who must either be an ancestor of Henry II of England in the tenth generation or less (counting Henry as the first generation), or a reputed ancestor in the tenth generation or less who has prominently appeared as such in published works (with a discussion of the problems in the latter case).

3. Each page should have a "main" section that includes dates of birth, baptism, marriage, death, burial, etc., IF KNOWN, names of parents (listed as "UNKNOWN" if relevant), spouses/partners, children, etc., with clear and complete documentation. A short biography of the individual may be included provided that it is VERY brief. If relevant, a discussion section labelled as "Commentary" (which should be clearly delineated from the "main" section) may be included for problematic or controversial links. Conjectural and controversial data should be included in the "Commentary" section ONLY, and should be clearly labelled as such. The "Commentary" section may also include such items as "Supposed parents (or children)" (claimed parents for whom the evidence is less than adequate), "Falsely attributed parents" (alleged parents who have appeared prominently in the sources who can be disproven), and "Conjectured parents" (in cases where a plausible guess has appeared in the literature), but such doubtful links should not appear in the "main" section.

4. As pages are based on individuals, husbands and wives will have separate pages, with common children overlapping. In this case, documentation may be made by cross reference to the spouse's page, where appropriate. For example, the page on Edward the Exile can simply give Agatha as his wife and list the children, and avoid a lengthy discussion of the problems regarding Agatha's origin, which should be discussed on Agatha's page. As another example, a wife for whom nothing is known besides her name does not need any documentation on her own page if all the relevant evidence is covered on her husband's page.

5. Errors that have received wide circulation may be mentioned in the "Commentary" section, with appropriate references.

6. Submissions in plain text are encouraged. If a submission is in html, the format of pages should be kept as simple as possible, and should NOT include graphics or background color. Pages done in html should consist of a SINGLE html file ONLY, and use primarily black characters on a white background, with a limited use of colored characters for emphasis. While a specific format will not be specified for the moment (in order to allow for some experimentation), pages should be kept basic enough so that they can easily be changed to a common format if one is decided upon (which is likely to happen relatively early in the project).

7. It is expected that anyone submitting a page for consideration should be well enough acquainted with the sources (including primary sources) to write a knowledgeable report on the individual in question.

CRITERIA FOR ACCEPTANCE

1. All information must be adequately documented. Secondary sources of high quality are acceptable provided that they provide a CLEAR "trail" back to the primary documentation. Conjectural or controversial relationships should provide pointers to the relevant scholarly literature, preferably with a discussion of the primary evidence. It should be clearly indicated which data are being supported by which sources. Where appropriate, cross-references to already existing pages in the database may be used as documentation.

2. Any submission received without documentation will be automatically rejected.

3. Only individuals covered in the "Scope of the Project" above (i.e., Henry II of England and his ancestors and claimed ancestors through the tenth generation) should be submitted. Any submission received on any other individual will be automatically rejected. (This will change if it is decided to expand the scope of the project.)

4. Any submission that is sent in any form other than plain text (.txt) or html (.htm) will be rejected.

5. Any submission that has been automatically generated by a Gedcom or a commercial program will be automatically rejected.

6. Any submission that uses graphics, background colors, etc. will be automatically rejected. The only exception to this will be simple genealogical tables, IF NECESSARY to the discussion.

7. Submissions which, in the opinion of the Editorial Board, meet the necessary criteria, will then be put on a temporary "provisional" page at the above website, opening the page up for discussion on the s.g.m/G-M newsgroup/mailing list. If no problems are revealed by discussions within the newsgroup (or if the Editorial Board regards any objections raised as invalid), the page will then be moved to the "main" database after a period of time deemed suitable by the EditorialBoard.

OTHER MATTERS

1. For the moment, I will maintain the database on my own
webpage at

http://sbaldw.home.mindspring.com/hproject/henry.htm

(If a decision is made to expand the database beyond the original restricted list of persons, it may be necessary to find another home.)

2. At the present, the "Editorial Board" consists of Todd Farmerie and myself. Others may be added on an ad-hoc basis.

3. Authors will have their by-line included on each page they write. It is understood that a submission of a page includes permission by the author(s) to include the page in the database (with any changes deemed suitable by the Editorial Board), but that the author is also free to use the submitted page elsewhere, at the author's discretion. Joint submissions are welcome.

4. If two or more pages are submitted for the same individual, it will be necessary for the Editorial Board to make a decision as to which one gets included, or whether they get combined (with credit to both authors). One of the challenges of such a (hopefully) cooperative database will be to see if an adequate division of labor between interested volunteers can be made without resorting to fighting about who gets to do the page for, e.g., William the Conqueror.

5. If problems are noted after the acceptance of a page into the database, or new information becomes available that changes the picture, a proposed change to an already existing page may be submitted for consideration.

6. While it would be nice if everyone who wanted could participate, it is inevitable that some people who would like to be participants in such a project will fail to have the necessary expertise to do so. I am sympathetic for the (perhaps inevitable) hurt feelings that might come about as the result of a submission getting rejected, but I regard the overall quality of the resulting database to be the primary concern. Individuals who would like to participate, but are uncertain about what to expect, are advised to submit no more than one page at a time, and to look at pages that have been accepted as a model.

Stewart Baldwin