Newsletter - 22nd September 2017
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Although attendees at the meeting last Friday afternoon were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, I was able to get permission to release some brief details about the GRO's plans.
You may recall that back in January I wrote:
"I don't know what conclusions the GRO have come to, but a key surprise for them was the fact that the number of paper certificates ordered was unaffected (and that's probably why the turnaround time for PDFs gradually became extended). I suspect that the release of the enhanced birth and death indexes a few days before the trial was a contributory factor, and the fact that the trial was known to be limited will also have spurred some researchers to place more orders during the period than they might otherwise have done.
"It's possible that the GRO will decide to run another trial before committing to a permanent service. The November trial wasn't publicised by the GRO, and whilst many keen researchers will have found out about it from this newsletter, or from Facebook, there will be many who only found out after the trial had ended."
It turns out that I was right - the GRO do indeed want to run another PDF trial, effectively an extension of Phase 1, but limited to the historic birth and death entries which have been digitised and included in the GRO's own online indexes (ie births from 1837 to 1916 and deaths from 1837 to 1957).
The good news is that, assuming it goes ahead, the new trial will run for a considerably longer period than the 3 weeks of last November's trial, and there will be NO LIMIT to the number of PDFs that can be ordered during the trial (you may recall that in the original Phase 1 trial there was a limit of 45,000 PDFs, of which around 42,000 had been ordered by the time the trial ended). This means that, not only will it not be necessary to rush your orders in when the trial begins, you'll have an opportunity to follow-up with further orders once you have seen the information in the first batch of PDFs.
From the GRO's point of view, running a trial for an extended period would enable them to better gauge the impact of the PDF service on orders of paper certificates. With luck, if the extended trial goes ahead and is sufficiently successful, they might even make it permanent - though I understand this would require additional secondary legislation.
Note: I won't rush out a special edition of this newsletter when the trial starts - because there are so many readers it would risk a surge of orders, potentially causing problems for the GRO. I will, however, update the Stop Press of my most recent newsletter (which could be this one, by the way), so I'd suggest checking back now and then.
A few days before last November's PDF trial began the GRO launched their own online birth and death indexes, with additional data that didn't appear in the original quarterly indexes. In particular, the mother's maiden name - previously only given from September 1911 onwards, is shown in almost all birth index entries (the main exceptions being illegitimate births).
The natural first step is to identify children recorded as having died before the 1911 Census, and who - because they weren't recorded on any of the censuses - don't appear on your family tree. Jill wrote to me just this week to tell me about three children she'd been able to add - she was over the moon!
But why stop there? The infant mortality rate was high during much of the 19th century, and most mothers will have lost one or more children. It's worth checking every couple who might have had children after 1837 - for whilst children who died as infants can't have any descendants, the loss of a child can have a significant impact on a family. In other words, it's not just about adding an extra name to our tree, it's adding to our understanding of our ancestors' lives.
Tip: remember that ages at death aren't always shown correctly for infants; a child shown as 7 years old according to the indexes might in fact have been 7 months, 7 weeks, 7 days, or even 7 hours old at the time of their death. If the death occurred after 1865 you can check the age against the original indexes.
This week Findmypast added over 400,000 records from Dublin city electoral rolls for the period 1908-15. As this period spans the 1911 Census, which we use at LostCousins, finding relatives in the rolls could help you in the quest to track down your Irish cousins.
You can find out more about the records and search them here.
Following the expansion of the Library with the acquisition of an enormous collection of FamilySearch microfilms, including wills and parish records, the Society of Genealogists has revised its membership structure. New members will be able to choose between Associate membership at £56 per year, which provides access to online resources, and Full membership at £80 per year, which also includes unlimited use of the Library, free 30 minute one-to-one sessions in the Library with the Society's experts, and entitles the member to vote at the Society's AGM.
Existing members will see their subscriptions rise gradually over the next decade - there won't be a sudden increase.
Users of Findmypast are all familiar with their A-Z of Record Sets, but did you know that Ancestry also have an index to their record sets, known as the Card Catalog(ue). You'll find it in the Search menu, or else click this link:
Searchable listing of all record collections