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Newsletter Ė 6th July 2023



GRO offer instant online access to historic birth and death records BREAKING NEWS

How to use Online View

How to pay

How much can you save?

Whatís next?

Stop Press


The LostCousins newsletter is usually published 2 or 3 times a month. To access the previous issue (dated 4th July) click here; to find earlier articles use the customised Google search between this paragraph and the next (it searches ALL of the newsletters since February 2009, so you don't need to keep copies):



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GRO offer instant online access to historic birth and death records BREAKING NEWS

For almost 2 years I have been taking part in a secret trial of a new service from the General Register Office for England & Wales which offers instant online viewing of historic birth and death entries. Today the service went live for all customers of the GRO Ė youíll see the new home page when you follow this link and log-in (or register).


In once sense itís the natural successor to the PDF service Ė although that will continue, and currently covers a wider range of death entries). However the PDF service requires human intervention, hence the turnaround time of several days.

By contrast the Online View service is completely automatic, and the only delay is the time it takes to pay. I order one entry at a time because what I order next often depends on what I discover.


But itís not just the instant access that will transform research for those of us with ancestors from England & Wales Ė itís the low price of the images, just £2.50 Ė compared to the £7 charged for PDF copies of birth and death entries. Suddenly it becomes feasible to research the branches of our tree in more detail, or to follow up hunches.


In the following articles Iíll explain how to make the most of this fantastic new feature!



How to use Online View

When you select an entry from the search results youíll be offered up to three options Ė a certificate, a PDF, or digital image:



Digital images are only available for:



Some entries within this range may not be available as digital images Ė I came across a couple during the trial. This may have been because the image quality was inadequate Ė the reason wasnít given. In such a case youíll have the option of ordering a PDF, but Iím afraid youíll have to pay £7 Ė and wait for up to week. Such is lifeÖ.



How to pay

The GRO use WorldPay, the same payment processor that I chose for LostCousins Ė but unlike LostCousins, the GRO donít offer the option of PayPal or bank transfers, nor can you pay for a digital image with a cheque.


If you have a credit card which is affiliated with Visa or Mastercard you shouldnít have a problem paying. But unlike LostCousins, the GRO donít accept payments by American Express, whilst WorldPay will only accept debit cards issued in the UK. If you have a prepaid card denominated in a currency other than pounds sterling that probably wonít work either.


Iím warning you now so that you wonít be surprised and/or disappointed later. Hopefully youíll find a solution, because this new service is too good to miss!



How much can you save?

On the face of it, access to £2.50 digital images, rather than £7 PDFs or £11 certificates is going to mean that you spend less. But it hasnít worked out like that for me Ė in fact, Iíve spent far more with the GRO over the past two years than I was spending previously.


Though on the other hand, when I look at how much Iíve achieved, how many mysteries have been solved, and how many new leads I have Ė itís obvious that my research has benefited enormously.


So DONíT expect to save money, but DO expect to make discoveries that you wouldnít have made otherwise.



Whatís next?

Iím not sure why the digital image service doesnít offer deaths after 1887, so that could be the next improvement. As for marriages Ė sadly the marriage registered werenít scanned in the 2000s as part of the abortive DoVE (ďdigitisation of Vital Events) project, so the cost of providing Online View access might be prohibitive.


On the other hand, if every LostCousins member spent as much with the GRO over the next 2 years as I have during the past 2 years, the GRO might have to find some way of spending their surplus funds!



Stop Press

This is where any major updates and corrections will be highlighted - if you think you've spotted an error first reload the newsletter (press Ctrl-F5) then check again before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to it......



This might be one of the shortest newsletters Iíve ever written, but Iíve been waiting to bring you this news for longer than I care to remember!


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Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2023 Peter Calver

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