Monthly Archives: May 2017

How the “New” General Register Office Birth and Death Indexes Can Help Your Research

At our May meeting Lois Abromitis Mackin, Ph.D., presented a short program on the General Register Office (GRO)’s new online birth and death indexes introduced in winter 2017. These are newly created indexes, different from previously available indexes. Thus, they provide a fresh view of the information from the version of the GRO indexes previously extracted and published online by the FreeBMD project.

The GRO’s new birth index is searchable by

  • Surname (required field)
  • 1st and 2nd forenames (AKA first and middle names)
  • Gender (required field)
  • Mother’s maiden surname
  • Registration year (required field, with ranges of +/- 2 years) and quarter
  • District of birth
  • GRO reference details (volume/page, referring to the original indexes).

The new death index is searchable by

  • Surname (required field)
  • 1st and 2nd forenames (AKA first and middle names)
  • Gender (required field)
  • Age at death
  • Registration year (required field, with ranges of +/- 2 years) and quarter
  • District of birth
  • GRO reference details (volume/page, referring to the original indexes).

As with previous indexes, the new birth and death indexes enable users to locate certificates they want to order. Handily, index search results are linked to certificate ordering–just click the Order button in the search result you want, and a fully populated order screen pops up.

The ability to see the mother’s maiden surname in birth index search results is the most exciting feature of the new indexes and opens up new possibilities for identifying unknown maiden names of mothers and for differentiating between children of the same name born in the same year and registration district.

Another

Despite these two features, you won’t want to abandon the indexes you’ve used in the past. The FreeBMD indexes you’re likely familiar with appear on several websites–FreeBMD.org, Ancestry, and Findmypast, among others. I am not sure whether Findmypast also uses the FreeBMD transcription of the indexes.

FreeBMD.org has the most flexible search features–you can search all entries or only births, marriages, or deaths; set your own ranges of years; search by district; search by county; and save your searches for future reference and analysis. Be aware that FreeBMD’s indexing is not complete for all counties; look for the coverage link on the site’s search page.

At Ancestry and Findmypast you will need to search births, marriages, and deaths separately, as they reside in separate databases. (Combined searches are available, but searching at the level of the individual database provides access to fields peculiar to that database that are not available at a more general level of search.) Ancestry allows a maximum date search range of +/- 10 years; Findmypast allows a maximum of +/- 40 years. Both Ancestry and Findmypast link to the original images of the GRO indexes.

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