©Copyright 2012 by Donald R. Snow

Sections of the Class Notes Return to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .  This page was last updated 2012-05-14.

  1. Instructors are Donald R. and Diane M. Snow ( , ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes are posted on with all the links, so you don't have to type them in yourself.  Hold down the Ctrl key when you click on a link and the link opens in another tab so you keep these notes open where you were.
  3. This class is to show you how to use the website  to find Civil Registration information (BMD = birth, marriage, and death) about people in England and Wales.


  5. Civil Registration was started in the England and Wales in July 1837 due to an act of Parliament to record all births, marriages, and deaths
  6. Done by the official government agency -- the office where you request birth, marriage, and death certificates -- not the churches, but the churches also recorded this data 
  7. BMD volumes
    1. Each county keep records and sent copies yearly to London where they were entered in large volumes, handwritten for the early years and printed for the later years
    2. Handwritten index books are from 1837 through 1983, then by a computer system in 1984 with no hard copy
    3. The BMD volumes were available to the public at St. Catherine's House (London), then Somerset House (London), then The Family Records Centre in Islington (London)
    4. On 27 Oct 2007 all the BMD volumes were put in storage at the National Archives -- -- at Kew Gardens, Richmond, Greater London and are no longer accessible to the public
  8. Filmed images of the volumes (through 1983) were made several times and are available at locations such as
    1. FH Library in Salt Lake City
    2. London FHC in Hyde Park Chapel, London --
    3. The National Archives, Kew Gardens, London
  9. Digitized images of the volumes (through 1983) are available online at
    1. -- free site, most images and the index up through about the 1950's completed so far
    2. -- commercial site, but available in FHC's
    3. -- commercial site, but available in FHC's
    4. -- commercial site, index is free, but not the images
  10. FreeBMD website --
    1. Volunteer effort to transcribe all the BMD information from the index volumes and post it online -- free and easily searchable
    2. Currently has more than 210 million distinct records (last data Apr 2012)
    3. Numbers of entries by year are posted at
    4. Quote from the FreeBMD FAQ's page -- -- "Current estimates are that the years 1837-1983 (the end of the transcribing element of the Project) will be completed by September 2013."


  11. Click on the SEARCH button on home page > Select search type wanted:  All Types (of events), or Births, or Deaths, or Marriages and options
  12. Information about searches
    1. Enter as little information as you think will identify the individual at the start and only add more information when you get too many hits -- Reason is that search terms even slightly different from indexed terms will be missed
    2. Display shows up to 3000 hits and can narrow the results down by entering more data, e.g. names, variants of names, ages, locations, counties, registration districts, etc.
    3. Can set it for Exact Match or Phonetic Search -- default is non-exact on given names and exact on surnames
  13. Results show: Event (B, M, or D), Quarter, Year, % Completed (of the indexing), Surname, Given Name(s), Registration District, Volume, Page, and two icons: INFO and GLASSES
    1. Reg District is a link and clicking on it takes you to information about that reg district
    2. Page number is a link and clicking on it gives you a list of all event entries in that reg district on that page in the handwritten index
    3. Tip:  To get the spouse's name in a marriage click on the Page Number -- shows names of all people (usually less than 6 or 8 people) indexed on that page as married so one of the opposite sex there is the spouse; can use a census or other record to determine which one it is
    4. INFO icon opens another window with information about that entry, who transcribed it, place to post a note with suggested corrections for that entry, etc. -- close that windows before you can open the INFO window of another entry
    5. GLASSES icon opens another window with information about the entry and a button to click to see the original image that was transcribed
    6. Can select different formats to view the image and/or download it, e.g. jpg, tiff, gif, pdf
  14. Some search suggestions are on the FAQ's at
  15. Registration Districts
    1. Each usually includes many civil (and ecclesiastical) parishes
    2. See  for an alphabetical listing of all Registration Districts in England and Wales (1837-1974) and what civil parishes and townships were included in each
    3. To find the Registration District that a place is in go to the FamilySearch Interative Map at ; enter the location > Parish > Jurisdictions -- shows the Civil Registration District, Probate Court, and other information - very helpful
    4. Can also find information on Registration Districts in
    5. There are some compilations of churches in Registration Districts, e.g. Westminster Archives listing of Anglican Churches in 3 London Registration Districts --
  16. Can save the search by downloading it with all the information
  17. Can save the image of the search by using a screen capture program, e.g. FastStoneCapture , to include in your genealogy program (Version 5.3 of FastStone Capture was the last freeware version)


  19. VIEW IMAGES button
    1. Has most of the images from 1837 up through 1935, even those not yet indexed
    2. To see an image select Births, Marriages, or Deaths > Submit Query, etc. -- After getting to the letter of the alphabet for that location, year, etc., you will have to look through several pages or estimate how far to jump ahead -- can select the format you want (jpg, pdf, gif, or tiff), but you have to estimate which page of that letter; can then view and/or download the image
  20. INFORMATION button -- Has a way to report problems, see general information, FAQ's, statistics, coverage and percentages completed, index of graphs by years and totals, transcriber information, submitter list, how to order certificates, how to sign up as a transcriber
  21. JOIN FREEBMD button -- how to volunteer and get started helping with the FreeBMD project
  22. TRANSCRIBERS' PAGE -- file management, transcribers' knowledgebase, transcribers software programs available, how to read 19th Century handwriting, many helps for transcribers, examples of data and things to look for, and tutorials


  24. FreeBMD is a finding aid to lead you to the certificates and/or further research -- it does NOT include the certificates nor all the data on them
  25. FreeBMD does not give exact dates -- only the quarter they were recorded in
    1. Quarters are Mar Qtr = Jan, Feb, or Mar; Jun Qtr = Apr, May, or Jun; Sep Qtr = Jul, Aug, or Sep; Dec Qtr = Oct, Nov, or Dec
    2. One way to record these dates in your genealogy program is "Apr-Jun 1867"
    3. Event may have been recorded in a later quarter than it really occurred, e.g. birth may not be registered until later, so if you can't find it when it occurred, try searching later quarters or years
  26. To  find the exact date when you know the year and quarter from FreeBMD
    1. Order the certificate from the GRO - -- costs about £9 (= about $14), but gives more information
    2. Look on websites such as to see if someone who has that certificate has shared the information; certificates are copyrighted by The Crown and hence cannot be posted, but the data on them can be
    3. Determine the parish -- then you may be able to find the event in a parish register
      1. FreeBMD gives you the Registration District, but not the parish, and some Reg Dists contain 20 or more parishes -- UK has more than 10,000 church parishes
      2. Can sometimes get more information from which includes the county registration office information
      3. If you find the parish, can see if the parish register is available by searching FamilySearch Catalog 
      4. If you find the parish and the births and marriages were extracted (indexed) you may be able to find the batch number at the sites and
      5. Can search FamilySearch Historical Records and the old IGI by batch number and name
      6. Can also try searching for the name on since you know the time period from FreeBMD
      7. Search FreeReg -- -- a project like Free BMD to index parish registers 
    4. Knowing possible spouse names you may be able to find the marriage in Boyd's Marriage Index -- -- available at all FHC's
    5. Can also check other sources such as newspapers, online family trees, and wills
  27. Ancestry has an older version of the FreeBMD database, but has additional search capabilities that may help


  28. The National Archives - helps, online leaflets, and databases -- and
  29. Vision of Britain - maps and information on jurisdictions --  
  30. Kimberly Powell's page - article and links -- 
  31. GENUKI links and information --
  32. Barbara Dixon's Registration Web Page -- 
  33. The Genealogist's Internet, Online Sources for Civil Registration, including local BMD projects -- 
  34. BMD Index UK -- -- commercial site, but has indexes including from 1984-2005


  36. FreeBMD is a very helpful family history tool and is the only completely free index to English and Welsh Civil Registration.

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