In the past, most England researchers who consulted large city records faced extensive and arduous searches through massive populations. For example, searching just one year in some larger Greater London parish registers could take an hour or two! Multiply this when the target ancestor isn’t found in the likely parish or borough and add the searching of various genealogical record types. Searching the sheer number of inhabitants in Greater London and other large cities in England was a frustrating experience that challenged even the best of genealogical researchers.
I remember helping patrons at the Family History Library back in the late 1970s and wishing for the day when indexes for multiple records would cover the landscape of England and the British Isles. Today, thanks to the spirit of volunteerism, thousands of indexes exist, building the expectancy of many more to come. Indexes assist all researchers—novice, experienced and expert—in their collective genealogical pursuits. Especially helpful are the advent of the numerous indexes and the success they can provide researchers in the pursuit of ancestral research in the larger cities and town boroughs of England. These indexes cut through the maze of big city parishes and more quickly help direct you right to the doorsteps where your ancestors lived or were born.
Where can today’s researchers find indexes, databases, and other similar type compiled sources? To get you started, here are some links that provide numerous indexes and over 5,000 links to England websites and databases. They provide extensive lists of where to find compiled indexes, or, better—may actually provide databases and/or transcriptions:
Articles on Wiki.FamilySearch.org:
Numerous indexes are also posted or mentioned online at the following two websites:
1) www.FHLFavorites.com – a gateway website to thousands of downloadable data-rich web links (many at no cost)
2) www.FamilySearch.org – has the Family History Library Catalog online where you cand find thousands of indexe,some of which are accessible at local family history centers. Conduct a Place search, click on a type of record, then look for an entry that includes the word “Indexes.”
Modern software programs and resources online combine to make the compiling and indexing of data a snap, happily causing researchers to consistently re-think and re-tool their approaches to research and research strategy. Moreover, this day and age now requires a vigilant and attuned stance to the flood of new databases, indexes and other resources. Indexes, where available, make life easier for genealogists and streamline genealogical research, especially large city research in England!
Researchers must know how and where to find, and then search all extant indexes or databases for large cities. Many genealogists refuse to seek for or ignore key indexes to primary sources of vital, church and other records before performing research or searches in original records. Some even consider that using indexes, especially online, is “not real research.” But these extant indexes, databases, and electronic transcriptions escalate fact-finding and radically conserve resources—in terms of time and expense, and in spite of all their limitations, are an overall boon to researchers and genealogical research. They provide a way to cut through the expanse of the big city right to the heart of what’s truly important—finding ancestry—more quickly! Don’t be afraid to go looking to see what’s out there.