Free BMD Review
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Free BMD (Free Birth, Marriage and Death)
Today this site contains over nearly 100 million records, all transcribed by volunteers, and its value to family historians grows by the month as more are added. It provides free online access to the indexes of births, marriages and deaths recorded under the Civil Registration process. You can't view the actual certificates online, but in many cases it provides a very useful shortcut to the full registration details, which makes it cheaper to buy the certificates.
This is a great resource, a model of what the internet can do, and the project deserves the support of as many volunteers as possible, so that it reaches completeness sooner.
Inevitably there are still many gaps, as a look at Information, then Statistics and then Coverage Charts will indicate. As a result, you may not find the person you're looking for at all, or for a marriage you may only find the partner whose name starts with a letter closer to the beginning of the alphabet. However, these caveats are outweighed by the usefulness of searching the records in such a flexible way: an infinite improvement over consulting microfiche or the big quarterly volumes. Because the results show the occurrences of names over a spread of years, it can also be a useful way of spotting potential siblings, particularly if a surname is quite rare in a particular part of the country. You will need to follow up other sources to prove a connection, but a little study can suggest many missing links.
Search First-time users may find it worth taking the offer of a fuller explanation of how to get the most out of your search, with a link just under the heading. None of the boxes is compulsory, but if your search is too vague, FreeBMD won't be able to cope. Note that the website's own search facility is further down the page. The search box at the top is an Ancestry.com advertisement. Choose between All Types, Births, Deaths and Marriages. Cut down the number of results by specifying start and end dates for your search, and the districts or counties if known. Use asterisks and question marks to denote missing or unknown characters. Although you are offered the option of completing a spouse's details, it is probably best to ignore this: it may be that the spouse has not yet been entered onto the system, and you increase the chances of variant spellings preventing the database from finding the original ancestor. Once you've got the search results, you can click through on the page number to see the names of other people whose details appear on the same page of the register. One of these may be the spouse of the person you are looking for. Or do a separate search if you already know the name of a spouse.
Join FreeBMD provides details of how to sign up to be a transcriber on this worthwhile project.
Transcribers Page Even if you're not a transcriber it can be worth checking out this page, as it provides very useful graphs showing the coverage of each type of record by year. This can be helpful in deciding next steps when a search is unsuccessful: is the birth not found in the year you expected because someone has been lying about their age, or because only 2% of the births from that year have been subscribed? In general, coverage of marriages is the most advanced, with some years approaching 100%, though also with some major gaps. Births are building up rapidly and deaths are now well covered.
Score - Free BMD scores a 7/10
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