September 25, 2006

British outward passenger lists

1837online has announced a forthcoming new database at with searchable images of outward passenger lists. (These are class BT27 at The National Archives.) About 30 million passengers will be included, on ships leaving Britain between 1890 and 1960 bound for Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, and elsewhere.

September 19, 2006

British phone books 1880-1984 online

Ancestry has begun posting indexed scanned images of old British telephone books. The first release, now online, includes 430 directory volumes that cover London and parts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex, and Surrey. The earliest date from 1880, the most recent from 1984. Additional years and counties will be added in future releases. One can search the database with as little as just a surname (and after 1946, a county) or one can browse a specific directory (e.g. to view advertisements and front matter). The database is provided in association with BT, formerly British Telecom, which was part of the British post office until 1981. The original phone books are from the collection of the BT Archives.

September 18, 2006

FreeREG is now live

FreeREG is now live for searching, at least for some people. Access is being rolled out gradually to prevent overloading of the servers. (Remember the 1901 census fiasco?) When I try it, I'm told that "access will be available from your location in approximately 15 days". This thread on soc.genealogy.britain includes reports from some people who have actually used the site and some whose wait will be 82 days (!). Reportedly, Staffordshire has the most data available so far, followed by Somerset, with at least some entries from more than 30 counties in England, Scotland, and Wales.

September 14, 2006

Guardian: National Archives squares the data circle

There's an interesting article National Archives squares the data circle in today's Guardian. Some excerpts: "Burgeoning demand for public sector information has prompted controversial cost-cutting measures . . . Some six million people visited the archives electronically last year . . . Meanwhile, through a series of innovative licensing deals, the organisation is taking an unusual approach to the task of digitising even obscure archives: it's encouraging private firms to foot the bill for doing so, in return for a certain amount of exclusivity - often time-limited - on the use of data . . . Britain's online genealogy sites are 'probably better than any other country' . . . [TNA] wants a thriving rivalry of healthy companies that can each raise enough funding to bid for the digitisation projects . . ."

FreeBMD adds 1.4 million entries

Today's update at FreeBMD added 1.4 million new entries. The top three quarters for new births were Q3 1869, Q4 1858, and Q3 1858. The top three for new marriages were Q4 1914, Q4 1915, and Q3 1856. The top three for new deaths were Q1 1861, Q2 1861, and Q2 1860. For full details, see the coverage charts.

New books at BHO: Yorkshire and London

British History Online has released four more books:

September 8, 2006

FreeCEN September update

There was another update at FreeCEN yesterday, with new data added from the Channel Islands (1861), Devon (1861), Dumfriesshire (1841), County Durham (1861), East Lothian (1861), Lancashire (1861 and 1891), Morayshire (1851), Norfolk (1861 and 1891), Nottinghamshire (1891), Ross and Cromarty (1841), Roxburghshire (1851), Staffordshire (1861), Sussex (1861 and 1891), Wiltshire (1861), and Yorkshire (1861, 1871, and 1891). Over 8.2 million individuals are now included.

September 6, 2006

Scottish deaths 1747-1868

The relatively new service World Vital Records has loaded a database of Scottish death records from 1747 to 1868. Here's an example result: Name: Saunders, Mary Relative: Saunders, John (father) Death Date: 13 Feb 1841 Cause of Death: measles Parish: Dunfermline County: Fife Country: Scotland Each result is accompanied by a clear explanation of the data source (parish records) and a map showing the location (courtesy of Google). The map is a handy feature, though for most purposes I would prefer an old map showing parish boundaries rather than a modern one showing the Forth Road Bridge (not built until 1964). A quibble with the source explanation: since the data come from parish records, I suspect the dates are for burials, not deaths. At 13,585 records, this database must represent only a tiny fraction of the burials in Scotland's parish registers, but it's a start, and it's free. The official pay-per-view site ScotlandsPeople, which used to say that complete indexed images of the old parish registers (OPRs) were coming shortly, now says that "unfortunately the digitisation . . . is proving to be a mammoth and difficult undertaking." The availability chart at ScotlandsPeople now just says "No" under "Deaths & Burials: OPRs", with no due date. That's a shame. Thanks to Everton's Genealogy Blog for alerting me to this news.

September 5, 2006

August/September additions to A2A

A2A has added a new batch of catalog records. Included are records of property insurance from the Sun Fire Office (mostly in London), Welsh probate indexes, and a long list of other items from all over England and Wales.

September 1, 2006

FreeREG search goes live?

Today the "we hope to go live soon" message has disappeared from the FreeREG homepage. When I click through to the search page, I get a new message: "FreeREG Search is being deployed gradually, and is not yet available from your location. Access will be available from your location soon." Update 1: On September 4th, one of the FreeREG developers wrote to soc.genealogy.britain that "we are still in the process of deploying the database, a process which will take a few days. Once the database is deployed, access to it will be phased in over a couple of weeks, in order to prevent the servers being overwhelmed by a rush of searches. . . . Access, once the search is deployed, will be phased [in] based on IP address." Update 2: Further elaboration by the same developer on September 5th and 6th: "I expect the search to go live by the end of this week." "The access phasing is designed to alternate around the continents. By the end of the week, the search will tell you how long you need to wait." More news when I have it.

British History Online additions: Glasgow, Westmoreland, and Cumberland

New books available at British History Online:

In addition, BHO now has two RSS feeds, one for its journal and one for publication announcements.