General remarks about the data in the database
The intention of the creators of the Database has been to capture in electronic form, as accurately as possible, the entries that were made in the Register of the Shelter for each inmate. There has been no attempt to "correct" these Register entries for any reason whatsoever.
There has also been no selection of information to include or exclude. Consequently, if there is no entry in a particular field of a particular record, this means that the clerk who originally wrote that record in the Register left that field blank. Likewise, if a "forename" is given merely as an initial, then that's all that was recorded in the Register. In cases like these, we have no means of finding the missing information.
There are very many gaps in the records in the Registers. In the Database, a missing value in a text field is indicated by leaving the field blank, whereas in a numerical field, a missing value is normally indicated by a -1.
Definitions of the Headings which appear in search results
The following table gives brief definitions of the meaning of some of the headings which appear in the results of a search into the Database.
||In the copy of the database at UCT, each person record is assigned a unique ID number, which merely serves as a unique identifier for that record and has no historical significance.
||The volume number of the Register in which the person's soujourn at the Shelter is recorded. Note the explanation for the decimal notation that is used
||Reference Number assigned by the clerk on duty to the person as he or she arrived at the Shelter. See further explanantion.
||The date of arrival of the person at the Shelter
||Age of the person in years. For a baby where the age is given in months, it has been converted to a decimal fraction of a year - e.g '3 months' is represented as .25. A '-1' means that no age was recorded. A '-2' means that the age was recorded as 'under 1'.
||s, m, d, w are used to denote single, married, divorced, widow(er) respectively.
|Nr. of Children
||Number of children accompanying the person
||The place, normally a city or town, from which the person came to the Shelter
||The person's occupation
||The persons' port of entry to England
||The number of days the person stayed at the Shelter >
||The date the person left the UK - not necessarily the date on which the person left the Shelter
||The place to which the person was going upon departing from the Shelter. Note that "Native Town" means "returning to place of origin." Note also that "N.A." was thought to stand for Native Abode, but Prof. Newman now considers that it might mean North America
||The person's eventual destination. If not empty, the place in this field can be taken to supercede that in the "Place to" field
||The name of the ship aboard which the person departed
||The name of the shipping agent
As each inmate arrived at the Shelter, the clerk on duty assigned him or her a Reference Number and recorded the required personal details in the Register. Over the years, these entries filled 25 register volumes. In each register volume, the personal reference numbers generally follow the normal numerical sequence. In some of the volumes, however, the sequence of Reference Numbers suddenly stops and begins again at 1. In the Database, this has been handled by adding a decimal digit to the Volume label of the Registers involved, to indicate which sequence of reference numbers applies. For example, an entry in the Database with vol = 3.2 and ref_no = 71 signifies the entry with reference number 71 in the second series of reference numbers in Register 3. There is a separate page with more information about the Registers.
Very occasionally, the clerks slipped up and got their numbering wrong. In such cases the entry in the Database takes a composite form which records both the last correct number (in sequence) which the clerk wrote, and the a decimal point followed by the number the clerk actually wrote, followed by a "1" (which just marks the end of the number).
For example, if you see Ref.Nr = 263.0641, you'd know that the last correct reference number before this entry was 263, and that the clerk actually wrote 64.