Friday, 22 August 2008

Digging up the Family Tree...

Any keen genealogists out there?

There should be - the combination of 'Who do you think you are?' on BBC1 and the advent of the internet providing the possibility of instant searches, rather than the hours of slog on micro-film readers, has made tracing one's family a whole lot easier.

However, until now, tracing family records before the census of 1841 and the instigation of the centralised birth, marriage and death records (in 1838) was still hard: although the Parish Registers hold a wealth of information about baptisms, marriage and burials, relatively little of it was on-line, and little of that was searchable without a whole lot of slog (with the notable exception of Family Search, although the quality of those records is rather variable).

Well, now there's a new kid on the block, in the form of FreeREG. This is slowly building up the database of UK Parish register information, and already there are over 5 million entries. The data is being provided by a growing team of volunteers, and it promises to be a wonderful resource. Of course, there will still be plenty of room for good old fashioned traditional searches, but it should make the job of pin-pointing the options that much easier. It has already helped me push my Father's family line back at least one generation, and possibly two.

So - get digging!

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