Friday, January 16, 2009

British Isles Census, Parish, and Vital Records Index Sites

If you have British Isles ancestry, you’ll want to check out these great resources:

  • FreeCEN (census - 1841, 1851, … 1891)
  • FreeREG (parish registers, some as early as 1600’s)
  • FreeBMD (Birth, Marriage, Death – 1837-1987)
FreeREG and FreeBMD are also available through, which co-sponsors the sites.

As their names imply, these are free resources, made accessible to us through the efforts of volunteer transcribers. While you won’t find digital images of original records, what you will find are millions of names, dates, places and other information transcribed from records dating back hundreds of years.

The library edition of includes most of the census years indexed at FreeCEN. If you find something and want to see more than just the index, you can see the original image on at the public library.
To obtain copies of birth, marriage, death, or parish registry records, follow the links on the respective FreeCEN/BMD/REG pages. Some are available on microfilm at your local Family History Center. Others can be ordered on-line through the appropriate General Register Office.

Remember that these sites are on-going projects. If you don't find your ancestor today, that doesn't mean you won't find him/her tomorrow. Check the
Coverage Chart page (FreeBMD) or Database Coverage (FreeCEN) or the County Parish list (FreeREG) to check the progress of transcription projects for your area of interest.

It's always polite to say "Thank you" and that still applies to on-line projects whose volunteers you will never meet. Consider leaving a "bouquet" on the FreeREG page, or sending a thank you message to the county coordinator for the location you search. (Volunteering to transcribe is a great idea, too!)

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