Newsletter - 4th November 2016
General Register Office launches new services BREAKING NEWS
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Yesterday the General Register Office launched new online indexes of births and deaths for England & Wales which not only make ordering of certificates easier, they provide additional information that will make it easier than ever before for family historians to find the right entries.
Previously sworn to secrecy, I can now reveal that I have been involved in beta-testing the new indexes since 13th October, and when I tell you that during those 3 weeks I've ordered more certificates than in the previous 3 years you might get some sense of how significant this development is.
The key features of the new indexes are:
Please note that the existing indexes will continue to be available online at the usual sites. To view the GRO indexes you'll need to log-in at their site, and you may be required to verify your email address.
Note: some locally-compiled indexes of births and deaths already include the extra information, but they only cover a small part of the country.
From 9th November the GRO will be trialling a new service under which uncertified PDF copies of previously digitised entries in the birth and death indexes will be available at a reduced price of £6 (a paper certificate costs £9.25). The years of coverage for historic entries are as follows:
Births: 1837 to 1934
Deaths: 1837 to 1957
(It will also be possible to order copies of birth, marriage, and death entries which were originally recorded in digital format - I believe this system commenced in 2007.)
The trial will last for only 3 weeks, but may close earlier (only 45,000 PDFs will be made available at this price). My guess is that those 45,000 PDFs will be sold very, very quickly - which is why I have rushed out this special edition newsletter!
The new indexes have already proven immensely useful to me - indeed it was having access to them that helped me to knock down my oldest 'brick wall' (see the article in the last newsletter).
I've also discovered that my great-grandfather and his second wife had twins - Alfred and Ellen - who died as infants in 1898 and so never appeared on a census; these were their first children together and it may have seemed to them at the time that they were being punished for having married illegally (my great-grandfather's two wives were sisters, and until 1907 a widower was not allowed to marry his dead wife's sister).
For me it has been immensely satisfying to fill in some of the gaps in my tree, and I doubt there's anyone reading this who won't feel the same way. But each of us will uncover different things about our ancestors and their families, and I'd like you to tell me about the discoveries you make in the next few days, as I'd very much like to include some of them in my next regular newsletter, which is scheduled to be published on Wednesday evening (9th November).
In the next issue I'll also include hints and tips on getting the most out of the new indexes - for example, searching for illegitimate children isn't as simple as you might think! Also, if an infant died at the age of (say) 9 days, 9 weeks, or 9 months the age at death may have been recorded as 9 years.
I hope to also have some feedback from the first researchers to receive PDF copies of register entries, and I'll be giving details of further pilots that the GRO are planning (Statutory Instrument 2016/980 will provide some clues - you'll find a PDF copy here).
But you might not get a copy of the next newsletter - and the next article explains why.
If you've read my last two newsletters you'll know that there have been problems sending emails to some addresses (principally, but not exclusively, BT addresses; some other addresses managed by Yahoo have also been affected). Until now I've sent emails about every newsletter to everyone who has asked to receive them, irrespective of how long ago they registered, and how recently they have logged-in to the LostCousins site.
Realistically, the longer it is since someone logged into their LostCousins account, the more likely it is that they are no longer reading the newsletters. Some may even be flagging them as spam (even though I explain at the bottom of each email why they've been sent, and how to unsubscribe); others may simply have left them in their spam folders.
As an experiment, emails about the last issue (29th October) were only sent to members who had logged-in to their LostCousins account since 1st January 2013; this means that half of the people on the mailing list DIDN'T get a copy. I may use different (or graduated) cut-off points in future, and whilst the most important emails (like the one about this special newsletter) might still be sent to everyone on the mailing list, I can't guarantee this will be the case.
So my advice to you is, if you want to continue reading these newsletters, PLEASE log-in to your LostCousins account from time to time (and yes, you do have one - you wouldn't have received an email about this newsletter if you didn't). You don't have to do anything, simply logging-in will confirm that you are alive and well, and still interested in family history.
At the present time all members are entitled to receive these newsletters, whether they have paid a subscription or not, and there are no plans to change this. (The only circumstance I can envisage in which it might change is if I had to pay to send each email out.) But in return I'd like to ask you to help me, by ensuring that your email address is up to date, by including my email address in your address book (especially your online address book), by flagging my emails as 'not spam' if you find them in your spam folder, especially your online spam folder, and by moving them to your inbox when you do. Always bear in mind that simply reading an email in your spam folder, then deleting it, confirms it as spam in the mind of the email provider.
Note: please don't provide an email address which forwards to another address if you can possibly avoid this, especially if the addresses are with different providers. It makes more work for me and greatly increases the chance that my emails won't reach you.
When you next log-in to your LostCousins account please take a look at your My Details page to ensure that the information shown is correct and as complete as possible. This includes providing alternative contact details if you haven't already done so, and entering the email address of the person you would like to take over your account when the time comes - as, one day, it will for all of us. Over the years extra sections have been added, most recently one where you can indicate whether you have taken an autosomal DNA test, or are considering doing so - this information is made available to the cousins you're matched with - so even if you completed the questionnaire diligently when you first registered there could still be blank spaces!
And always check your My Cousins page to see whether there's anyone waiting to hear from you - I do my very best to bring relatives together, but ultimately it's up to you to make that final connection. You will be sent an email when a cousin is trying to get in touch, but long experience has shown that emails don't always get through....
This is where any last minute updates and corrections will be highlighted - if you think you've spotted an error (sadly I'm not infallible), reload the newsletter (press Ctrl-F5) then check here before writing to me, in case someone else has beaten you to it......
That's all for now - but I'll be very soon with my regular newsletter.
© Copyright 2016 Peter Calver
Please do not copy any part of this newsletter without permission. However, you MAY link to this newsletter or any article in it without asking for permission in advance - though why not invite other family historians to join LostCousins instead, as standard membership (which includes this newsletter), is FREE?