• Researching your ancestors in Northern Ireland

    Some reseachers have - rightly - questioned why Free UK Genealogy has 'UK' in its name as we have, until recently, not transcribed records created in Northern Ireland.

    The UK in our name reflects ambition rather than the actuality of the three projects which are currently providing data (FreeBMD - England and Wales, FreeCEN - England and Wales, Scotland and Crown Dependencies, and FreeREG - England and Wales, Scotland, and Crown Dependencies). 

    This is not to say that we do not have data relating to Northern Ireland.  It is most easily accessible on the original FreeCEN website, where you can search by place of birth.   For example, Harriett Smith, a widow born in Argmagh, was working as a servant in Nottingham in 1891:

    Screenshot of transcription of a household from FreeCEN website
    Household in Nottingham, including Hariett Smith, born Armagh
    Grand brick-built Victorian villa
    Cliff House, Hermitage Walk, Nottingham (c) Savilles (1)

    How do I access Northern Irish census data?

    You can currently search on FreeCEN by Northern Irish county, and Eire counties will be added shortly. You cannot, currently, search by place of birth within any county - we would love to hear from you about how we can best help you to search for Irish ancestors, so please fill in the survey there. Sadly, the early censuses of Ireland have rarely survived. We would like to work with the National Archives of Ireland, who hold those fragments which remain, to enable the early censuses to be transcribed, and their data for the 1901 and 1911 to be shared on FreeCEN. 

    On FreeREG, we have recently been given transcriptions of registers in Co. Fermanagh, and these are the start of our coverage for Northern Ireland.  Country Coordinator Sandra Adams-West is contacting record-holders and recruiting new transcribers (head over to https://www.freereg.org.uk/cms/opportunities-to-volunteer-with-freereg if you would like to help out).

    Where can I go for Northern Irish birth, marriages and death data?

    Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths started in Ireland in 1864.  Records are searchable at https://geni.nidirect.gov.uk/, but in a very limited form.  We would like to work with the government of Northern Ireland, to enable searching across the UK (in FreeBMD), which would make their data more discoverable while enabling them to retain their income from pay-per-view to the certificates.  We are hoping to transcribe registration of Birth, Marriage and Death from military contexts and these include instances of events in Ireland.  For example one folio of the Registry of Marriages, Births and Baptisms, C Brigade Royal Horse Artillery. http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C11665645 begins with a marriage at Charlemont, Armagh, in 1889, and ends with the birth of their daughter in Aldershot the following year.  This is a good example of a record which is currently inaccessible, as it has not been digitised

    So while we do not yet have much from Northern Ireland we have a little, and plans to do a great deal more. we would be delighted to hear from any organisation with such records that they would like us to transcribe.

    (1) This image shows the house where Harriett was a General Servant in a household with 10 young children  The house was offered for sale a few years ago, and the details are still available at http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-22783515.html


    Look out for our series of guest posts starting next week, where professional Irish genealogist Nicola Morris of timeline.ie will be exploring Irish records in more depth.

  • Vote (rumour correction)

    There is a rumour that Free UK Genealogy is taking a vote from volunteers and users of our websites (FreeBMD, FreeCEN and FreeREG) as to whether the sites should remain free, or should be behind a paywall.  This is simply not true.  

    There is no vote: the sites will remain free.

    Free UK Genealogy is a charity set up to achieve, and committed to 

    • the free provision of high quality transcriptions and (where possible) images of records of genealogical significance, 
    • the development of tools to support community transcription, and 
    • other activities that promote making family and wider history records available under open data formats.  

    We generate sufficient funds for our day-to-day expenses from banner advertising and the kind donations - often in small amounts - from users of our websites.  Of course, we would always like more money - to improve our existing projects and develop new ones, to support community transcription and to more widely make historical records available to all, for free. Please get in touch if you have ideas for projects or partnerships that you would like us to consider.

    There are a number of ways you can support us, and help the future development of Free UK Genealogy. 

    • You can donate (if you don't already do so).
    • You can spread the news about our projects, bringing them to the attention of those who would love to know we may have the information they are looking for.
    • If you buy online (e.g. groceries, books, electronics) please consider signing up for our Easy Fundraising page.  You will only pay what you normally do on your online shopping, but we will be given a small amount, at no extra cost to you.  Easy Fundraising will prompt you, when you visit a website which is part of the scheme (or when you do a search, that a result is part of the scheme).
    • You can volunteer in one of a number of roles - from transcribing to programming in Ruby, to working on social media campaigns.  This includes the opportunity to be a Trustee, or provide your professional knowledge through our new advisory board.
  • Conference Report (updated)

    Thank you to all those who came to the Open Data Conference on Saturday 30th January and especially to John Sheridan (Digital Director, the National Archives), Simon Tanner (Pro Vice Dean Research Impact & Innovation, King's College London) and our own Trustee Richard Light, for giving such enjoyable and illuminating talks.

    Welcome slides with notes and the new Free UK Genealogy Open Data video can be seen here. A (poor quality) video of this section can be viewed here.

    John Sheridan's talk can be seen here (we apologize for the poor quality of the recording). Simon's slides can be seen here and Richard slides can be viewed here.

    The formal presentations were followed by a presentation of a new Free UK Genealogy video explaining why we believe Open Data is so crucial to the future of the organisation and projects, and hence the need for a new transcribers agreement.

    Whilst the 'in person' attendees were able to join in the lively debate, online attendees became increasingly frustrated with streaming issues that were caused by the WiFi provision at the Linnean Society, not within our control unfortunately.

    We understand how disappointing this must have been and are now working hard on editing the conference video, which will be published with a transcript as soon as we can.

    Thank you for your patience if you tried to join us via one of these methods, and as one of the Trustees commented we need to ensure that technical issues do not undermine the messages of the day. It is important to ensure that all transcribers get an opportunity to hear the case for Open Data and get easy access to the proposed transcriber agreement and consultation process.

    • The proposed Transcriber Agreement Consultation can be found here.
    • Please use the consultation process to let us know your views on the proposed transcriber agreement and
    • please check FAQs if you have any questions. We will be adding the questions raised at the conference to this page shortly. If you still have questions please email us at info@freeukgen.org.uk

    Press coverage:
    Digital adventurers - Family Tree Editor Helen Tovey gets to grips with 'Open Data' and what it means for family history http://family-tree.co.uk/2016/02/digital-adventurers/