England Major Websites
Government • Public Sector
A central location for a consortium of governmental and public sector body sites. In addition, it has numerous guides, appropriate and frequently required subject links, and additional links to an abundance of official and unofficial sites leading to a wealth of information. Following are the sites of the consortium:
The General Register Office for England and Wales, providing in-depth information for the registering of births, marriages and deaths, as well as details and facilities for the ordering of the certificates of such, including more specific issues such as stillbirths and adoptions. Also links referring to current day marriage-related or registration issues, and a few additional research links.
The joined forces of the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission, containing wealth of information, help resources, and links to additional sites, including archives and directories.
Run jointly by the General Register Office and the National Archives, it houses useful information, research helps and links to a number of major sites.
The General Register Office for Scotland, responsible for the registration of births, marriages, deaths, divorces and adoptions, and for carrying out periodic censuses. In-depth detail of available records, including aforementioned, Old Parochial Records, Old Parish Records, as well as links to related sites—in some cases, more in-depth. Also very informative.
The National Archives of Scotland is the main archive for sources of the history of Scotland as a separate kingdom, its role in the British Isles and the links between Scotland and many other countries over the centuries. The NAS holds records spanning the 12th to the 21st centuries.
The Scottish Archive Network houses a catalogue to 52 archives; a number of digital archives; an extensive list of Scottish-related external websites, as well as those hosted by SCAN, including Scottish Documents and Scottish Handwriting; and a variety of information, guides and research tools.
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, providing wealth of information regarding records housed, numerous external links, and houses sites for Freeholders’ Records, The Ulster Covenant, and Will Calendars.
The National Library of Wales contains innumerable references, links and information relating to the sources it contains, as well as numerous external links to sites containing information housed at the NLW.
Although the partner emphasis seems to be with the India Office Records, which alone is unlimited in information relating to its archives, as well as the references, sources, and links provided, it’s just one geographic category of the British Library, which is an infinite network of catalogues and collections in its own right.
The English strand of the UK Archives Network, Access to Archives is a database containing catalogues describing archives held throughout England and Wales and dating from the 900s to the present day. It contains 10.1 million catalogue entries from 414 record offices and other repositories.
The Debt of Honour Register on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission makes it possible to enter criteria to search a database listing 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations world-wide where they are commemorated. The register can also be searched for details of 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War. The site is also informative in relation to all that is Commission-related, and includes a lot of related links.
The Imperial War Museum provides detailed information of events and rolls it plays via links to each of its branches; and although not to be overlooked, draw attention primarily to the Family History link, which itself has a number of links (including an abundance of subject-divided external links), and some downloadable subject-specific research guides in PDF format.
The 1901 Census for England and Wales has a number of search options, meaning that a search of the data is not limited primarily to a name search. Summaries of search results are shown, but more in-depth information requires a minimum charge. If desired, images of the original documents are available for download, and transcription details of family/household members have been linked. There is also a large collection of links to external sites.
All fields of the census form have been transcribed, thus making the most detailed search of the census possible. Unique to the 1911 Census were questions regarding fertility and additional occupational data. For the first time, the original household schedules are available for view (in colour), with the more familiar enumerators’ summary books soon to follow. It is possible to view your ancestors' own handwriting, along with any additional notes or comments they may have written. There is also a news page and a blog. If registered with FindMyPast.com, the same sign-in details can be used on this site, as can any credits purchased there. Likewise, credits can be purchased on this site and used on FindMyPast.com.
ScotlandsPeople is the official online source of parish register, civil registration and census records for Scotland, containing nearly 50 million records. From the results of an index search you may view, save and print images of many of the original documents, and order extracts of any register entries. In summary, it contains 1841-1901 Censuses; Old Parish Register: Births/Christenings, Marriages/Banns (1553-1854); Statutory Register: Births (1855-1906), Marriages (1855-1931), Deaths (1855-1956); Wills & Testaments (1513-1913). Whilst registration is required to fully access the database, there is still a multitude of information available.
The General Register Office for Northern Ireland is very informative with regard to its services and records, both of which are described in great depth. Online applications can be made for birth, marriage, death and adoption certificates; and it also has a useful list of external sites.
The General Register Office for the Republic of Ireland offers in-depth detail into the records and services it provides (including present-day registrations and modern-day issues), as well as a detailed history of the origin of such. Online applications possible and a number of useful links too.
A large site, The National Archives of Ireland (Republic) provides a comprehensive description and historical background of its numerous records, along with additional sources. It provides in-depth detail of its responsibilities and services, and rules/arrangements for booking/visiting in order to view. An online service is available, making it possible to reserve documents for viewing in person. As well as the array of archives described in great detail throughout the site—a summary of which can also be viewed—there is a portion that can be searched and viewed online. Also a lot of guides and a countless amount of very useful external sites, the majority indexed alphabetically and a portion of which are categorised.
The National Library of Ireland claims to house the world's largest collection of Irish documentary material, including books, manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, drawings, photographs and maps. The majority of material needs to be viewed in-house, although there are still a number of online catalogues and databases available. Each category of the library’s collections gives in-depth detail of the material and applicable services available, as does the Office of the Chief Herald, and the National Photographic Archive. Numerous categorised external links are available, as are downloadable user guides.
Originally consisting primarily of records of the civil registration BMD indexes for England and Wales from 1837 to 2006, viewable as images of microfiche. Since added: records of BMD of British citizens overseas or at sea, ranging from 1761 to 2005; census records for 1841-1901, searchable by name or address (excluding 1881 address search); various migration indexes covering 1793-1960; various military-related records covering 1656-1994, including army births and deaths not included on civil indexes. There is also the on-going Parish Records Collection project, collating baptisms, marriages, burials and related records across England and Wales, covering 1538-2005. If your ancestor was in the right circles, then a list of directories and occupations, covering 1858-1925, may also be of use. Also included is a blog, options to search for living relatives, and with Family Tree Explorer, up to 2 family trees can be created or uploaded by GEDCOM to the site, with numerous features and options available. Help for the various resources, as well as an in-depth knowledge base for a variety of external record-types and subjects also included.
The largest collection of family history records on the web, Ancestry.com contains over 4 billion names—in many cases, with the option of images of original documents available. Although primarily US-based, amongst over 3,000 databases (some of which can be viewed for free) is a collection of UK & Ireland Records, consisting of over 200 million names alone. Free facilities are available (some requiring registration), including countless subjects and content in the Learning Center; the submission-based Ancestry World Tree, a nearly 400 million-strong pedigree database; the option to create an online family tree; and thousands of message boards. After registering, My Ancestry makes it possible to create search lists, the criteria of which are automatically compared against all databases, and for any possible matches made, notification is made by e-mail. There is also an extensive blog, with links to social networking, RSS feeds, and an e-mail update.
Localised for UK and Irish customers, Ancestry.co.uk focuses on such collections, making its records more notably accessible, including those UK-related which are available for free. Also, subscription options are priced in pound sterling, rather than American dollars. Still networked with Ancestry.com—hence it still being possible to subscribe to the Worldwide Membership—worldwide facilities such as the Ancestry World Tree and message boards are also accessible, but often with a UK slant, such as attention drawn to the 400 million-strong Ancestry World Tree including 25 million UK & Ireland names. Although features can still be accessed from the US site, certain UK equivalents—such as the Learning Centre—take on a life of their own; whereas others, such as the DNA Project, are dependant upon the US site, still awaiting a UK page.
The home of four sites, universal in design, The Origins Network boasts to have a majority of exclusive databases on British Origins and Irish Origins (including the likes of Boyd’s Marriage Index and Griffith's Valuation), all of which are searchable collectively, consisting of over 500 million names across the web. Scots Origins provides free Scottish-related searches of the I.G.I., and provides facilities for professional searching of various records, for which, if successful, transcriptions will be e-mailed. Registration on any one of these sites can be used on all of the others. Also lists various resources, including discussion groups, articles and a newsletter with e-mail alert facilities.
Providing links to many websites that offer online transcriptions of UK births, marriages, deaths, and censuses, UK BMD is divided into a number of categories (including One-Name Studies) in order to distinguish the type of sites that will be searched for. Sites covering records such as parish registers and Bishops’ Transcripts are also included. In addition to numerous site listings for GRO BMDs, a special feature to note is the listing of Local BMD county sites, which, although currently not many and still in progress, are making the original and more accurate BMD records available from local register offices.
An initiative for making UK-relevant records freely available online, FreeUKGEN is the central location for its member projects (listed below), encouraging and making good use of its large-scale volunteer effort by reducing duplication of transcription and indexing efforts, and by facilitating widespread access to the information resources that are produced by such efforts.
An on-going project aiming to transcribe the civil registration indexes of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to such, FreeBMD is transcribed on a voluntary basis for the period covering 1837 to 1983, and provides a progress report of transcribed records. Numerous search options can be entered and selected, and from search results (see saved search), links are available detailing geographical boundaries of districts, all entries with same volume and page numbers—with marriages, as a rule, this will make the spouse immediately accessible—and the option to submit any possible corrections. Colour, bold and italic coding are used for search results, which between them indicate the availability of data and accuracy of transcription. Facilities also continue to improve with regard to free images, and various links (including external) are provided relating to general information and statistics about the project, as well as suggestions and guidelines for potential transcribers.
As a new project, currently consisting of about 7 million records, the aim of the 3 databases of FreeREG is to provide free Internet searches of baptism, marriage, and burial records, which have been extracted from parish registers and non-conformist church records in the UK. Detailed search engine options make it possible to not only search a selected county (and optional town or village), as well as a specified period, but someone other than the individual(s) to whom the event relates, such as a parent or witness. A list of links is also included of counties included in the project—each with county co-ordinator contact details for potential transcribers—and via each respective county link can be found detailed statistical information of on-going transcription, as well as an external link to the respective county at GENUKI, which provides in-depth history of the county, as well as a wide range of subjects with countless links to further lists and external sites related to the county.
Despite its current 10 year existence, the ever-expanding availability of various online census resources has left FreeCEN in its infancy. It aims to provide a single online searchable database of the 19th century UK census returns. The household of a found individual can be viewed, as can the next or previous household. Certain data is abbreviated, and no download or image facilities are currently available, but as the project continues to progress, this will be considered an asset. Detailed statistics are available, divided into individual counties of each census, providing number and percentage figures currently online, as well as links to more in-depth details of areas within a county, as well as to record count and percentage completion graphs. Details of recent additions to the database are also available, as is the availability for potential transcribers, along with external e-mail and website links for county co-ordinators.
Official family history site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Daily-updated indexes of the I.G.I. and Family History Library Catalog (FHLC), as well as the Pedigree Resource File, Ancestral File, Vital Records Index, US Social Security Index, and the following censuses: British 1881, Canadian 1881, and US 1880. Also numerous links to independent genealogical sites; research helps and guidelines; various news, information, product support and education options; options to share genealogy; and a link to download free genealogical software: Personal Ancestral File (PAF). Also includes a direct link to the pilot Record Search site (just one of a number of on-going projects on FamilySearch Labs), along with an introductory page to the FamilySearch Indexing site, and an external link to the Family History Archives of the Harold B. Lee Library.
Pros and Cons
In many respects this could still be considered as a beta site as there are still bugs to be sorted, issues to be addressed, and changes to be made in order to deal with certain practicalities. Nevertheless, despite the cons that currently have to be endured—on what is not only a complete overhaul, but a new approach and way of thinking toward temple submission—the pros certainly outway them by far.
Combining Duplicate Records
At this stage, only Latter-day Saints can use the site, which has combined submission-based databases (I.G.I., Pedigree Resource File, Ancestral File) into one, along with official Church Membership Records. View of the latter is restricted to the registered individual's own record and certain family members—allegedly! Before the launch of the site, many duplicate records were combined into one new record, although there are still many, which makes the Possible Duplicates feature an asset, although the records being combined are still preserved so that one or more duplicate records can be extracted from the combined record if a mistake is made.
Adding and Editing
Conflicting data is still preserved (there can be more than one occurrance of the same event) and data can now be edited, even after ordinance work has been done. The authority to edit data lies with the submitter. If another disagrees with certain information, a Dispute feature makes it possible to state what you believe to be correct and why. Notes and sources features have been greatly improved, along with the ability to list additional events. Regular GEDCOM files can be uploaded, although it is strongly encouraged to search for the ancestors first, due to the amount of duplicates.
With ordinance work, anything listed as Ready can be selected for submission. If choosing to provide the proxies (formerly Family File), ordinances are shown as Reserved and will remain so until the user chooses to proceed with a submission, for which a Family Ordinance Request is printed to take to the temple. No disk is required as the temple accesses the data via the Internet to print the cards. Reserved ordinances can be released for others to do, and when requesting that the temple provide proxies (formerly Temple File), ordinances will still be shown as Ready, making it possible for others to reserve and perform such ordinances before any such time that the temple may have chosen to do the work.
The Helper feature makes it possible for a registered user to log on using the appropriate credentials of another Latter-day Saint, even if they aren't registered, in order to work on the website on their behalf. Any work done is shown as being contributed by the user who is helping, but attributed to the one who is being helped. There is also the Help Center: consisting of various training and resource guides, detailed feedback, search option, and options for saving favourites and viewing previous and open cases. Also to be noted is the fact that the Help Center is not limited to support for FamilySearch. The 'home page' has a link called Product Home which reveals the true home page, listing links for numerous indexes and packages.
As the new site is being made available to Latter-day Saints gradually by temple district, new.familysearch.org and www.familysearch.org are running in tandem until such time as all temple districts are live, the site is available to those who are non-LDS, and all resources from the old site are made available on the new one. Such excluded resources include all non-submission-based databases (such as the censuses and vital records indexes), amongst many others (see www.familysearch.org above). It's also not possible at the moment to download to GEDCOM files.
An enormous undertaking to digitise and transcribe all of the genealogical records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, consisting of more than 5 billion documents on 2 ½ million rolls of microfilm and 1 ½ million microfiche. As records are completed, it will be possible to freely search and view original images on the pilot Record Search site of FamilySearch. Numerous projects are underway primarily by FamilySearch Indexing, but also participating genealogical and historical societies, with many upcoming projects always being added. Video tutorials and publications (including some very good external ones) are provided for volunteers, along with additional support and the downloadable software required in order to transcribe the images that will appear on your screen when participating in this work.
Serving as a virtual reference library, GENUKI is of particular relevance to the UK & Ireland (see definition), and is a huge network requiring its own hierarchy, with an extensive number of subject headings, which are based upon the LDS Family History Library Catalog. It also provides mailing lists and newsgroups and a calendar of external links to upcoming events.
A UK-based international organisation, the Federation of Family History Societies represents, advises and supports over 200 family history societies and other genealogical organisations world-wide, with a total membership of over 180,000. In-depth detail is provided of research-helps, on-going projects, including the National Burial Index (as well as mention of its involvement in the British 1881 Census Project with The Genealogical Society of Utah), and the latest information about conferences and fairs. Additional facilities available to societies that have subscribed.
Membership including all established family history societies in Scotland, as well as several national and regional bodies throughout the world, The Scottish Association of Family History Societies co-ordinates and co-operates with other national bodies in the UK in research projects; promotes education of family history through annual conferences, talks, seminars and workshops by member societies, and has a range of publications. Downloadable bulletins in PDF format. The Surname Search feature find societies that have an interest in the same surname or topic. Full benefits available to societies that subscribe.
Like a rash amongst lists of external links on genealogical sites, Cyndi’s List consists of over 264,000 links to genealogical sites, hierarchically categorised with cross-references, descriptions, and listings of possible related categories. Additional listing options available, including alphabetical and topical. A page of search engines is organised for those wishing to search simply for surnames, the sites of which are categorised into personal home pages and surnames, family associations and family newsletters. It’s even possible to search new links, still to be categorised.
A 40,000-strong centralised directory of links to census transcriptions (including federal censuses and indexes, state and territorial censuses, tax lists, voter lists, military pensioner lists, etc.), Census Online is a primary source for locating online census transcriptions. Covering the US, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, each country, state and county refers to the amount of links listed. There are also calculator-related tools, as well as external links to numerous census forms. Although, on the surface, this doesn't appear to be a major resource for UK and Ireland censuses, it provides numerous external links—in some cases obscure—to sites listing material that either might not be available, or might have to be sought for a lot harder through regular sources.
Containing over 2,000 web pages, 5,000 photos and illustrations, and 1,500 maps and plans, this is an extensive list of workhouse-related subjects, giving detailed insight and historic background to each topic. A far greater knowledge and understanding of virtually anything workhouse-related can be acquired from here, including interesting insights such as the post-1904 pseudonymous addresses used in order that a child born in a workhouse didn't have the fact indicated on their birth certificate. A search result can reveal a combination of various index records, historic background, past and/or present images, record sources, bibliography and links. Thoroughly researched by one who has become an authority on the subject, you may well find that missing ancestor here.
In 2002, Peter Charles Barns-Graham transformed his ho-hum web site into a lightning rod of British Isles genealogical data, and has been expanding on it ever since. The "gem" in this "rough" that attracts so many visitors is his impressive database of interlinked descendancies of various historically prominent families of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, as well as their early ancestors across western mainland Europe and reputed connections to Roman emperors, Biblical persons and even characters of classical and Germanic mythologies — all cobbled together from various historical documents of families and peerages in the British Isles and mainland Europe. In assembling these descendencies, Barns-Graham uses a critical eye to identify errors and inconsistencies and either explain them away or at least bring them to the attention of site visitors. The database's number of pages has expanded from 412 at the end of 2002 to 3,250 at the end of 2008. Stirnet is a membership-based site, although visitors that offer significant contributions can petition Barns-Graham for free memberships.
Surnames • One-Name Studies
The Guild of One-Name Studies is the UK-based organisation for those who have an interest in the subject, providing the option to join the Guild, which offers various membership benefits, including a quarterly journal and publications for sale. If choosing to register a one-name study, certain obligations are expected. Free to all, after selecting a name from the Register of One-Name Studies, the submitter can be contacted by e-mail or any additional sources provided, one of which, used by few, is that of having an individual Guild website made available to the general Internet, possibly with links to additional records available for search in the archive. Note that no online facilities are available for financial transactions, and therefore membership application has to be done by printed form, but various detailed options are provided.
A basic facility which searches for full, partial or categories of names, from a database of information on the size and geographical distribution of 25,630 family names. Qualification for a name's entry in this database is at least 100 entries under that family name in the Great Britain electoral register for either 1996 or 1998; there's a discrepancy as to which between the main site and it's help file. Search results include surname distribution maps for 1881 and 1998, frequency and ethnicity statistics, international comparisons, geographical spread, and social demographics.
Providing easy access to free and commercial resources for close to 1.75 million surnames, Surname Finder makes it possible to search hundreds of pre-programmed databases for each selected surname. Although an option is provided to register a website via the host site, GenealogyToday, which would then be amongst the list of its relevant surname, there isn’t, however, an option for adding surnames to the existing list.
Providing a free search facility for surnames, RootsWeb Surname List produces results of submitted criteria that are being sought by others, along with e-mail hyperlinks to contact the submitters. Links are also provided to further in-depth help information, as well as various details and facilities relating to submissions.
With a search option or alphabetic hierarchy of surnames, SurnameWeb provides categorised lists of numerous resources relative to the selected surname, primarily external. Various options are available related to sharing your data, including external, and section links are available to a variety of additional external resources.
A UK & Ireland-wide directory of geographically-organised genealogical databases and record transcriptions (85% of which are free), UKIsearch lists external sites, drawing together a broad range of data, some of which is very specific or unique.
One of a number of categories on UK BMD, ONS provides descriptive links to external sites of various categories, covering records from births, marriages and deaths; parish records and censuses; to individually and society-compiled data—all with an emphasis upon a specific or phonetically similar surname.
Discussion Groups • Forums • Message Boards • Newsgroups • Mailing Lists
The oldest and largest free genealogy site, and supported by Ancestry.com, the primary purpose of RootsWeb is to enable genealogical communications and the exchange of data between people. Highlights on such a huge network include: information being submitted/searched via the WorldConnect Project and RootsWeb Surname List; an innumerable amount of mailing lists and message boards, covering an ever-growing number of subjects; a list of the most popular indexes and databases; and the facility to register a genealogy website, of which there are tens of thousands, categorised, including the likes of FreeBMD and Cyndi’s List. Various other tools also included, as well as numerous links and search options to Ancestry.com.
The message boards of Ancestry.com (more than 161,000 with over 17 million posts) provide various search facilities, and are indexed in a hierarchy order of alphabetic surname, location and topical subjects (also accessible from Ancestry.co.uk, and some of which are listed on RootsWeb), each with a number of entries listed next to it. Searches can be performed for others doing similar research (nearly 3 million), and with registration, a personal profile can be created, listing criteria which you are searching for. Message boards can be added to favourite or notification lists, and applications can be made to become administrators of message boards.
A central location of links (including external) to GENUKI newsgroups; a hierarchically and geographically-organised list of mailing lists for the UK and Ireland, primarily hosted by major websites, and kept in conjunction with much more comprehensive mailing lists and newsgroups.
Facilities available for submitting genealogy in GEDCOM format to the Pedigree Resource File, which could also be published on FamilySearch, as well as preserve such in the Granite Mountain Records Vault.
A resource for all adopted people, birth parents, siblings and extended natural family members, UK Birth Adoption Register provides a freely searchable database of registered entries. Registration of £10 is required both in order to contribute to the database and to be able to apply to make contact with anyone on the database. Anonymity is respected and thus any contact is initially made via the UK Birth Adoption Register. Information and sources for adoption are also provided, along with a number of relevant websites.