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Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: If the Registers Exist…

A wise genealogist speaking to a group of beginners in Florida said, “Only look for documents you are sure exist.” How many times have we looked for something and not finding it, decided it wasn’t digitized or photographed yet?  Thus for us, the solution to the problem was to be patient and wait.

A better solution might have been to look for alternative sources for the same information, and not finding any, accept the real possibility that some things just don’t exist.  There really was a fire at the courthouse or a religious group was so persecuted that they didn’t write anything down.
English researchers are lucky because there are indexes to what records exist.  The interactive map of England at www.maps.familysearch.org shows the years there are BMD records for each Church of England parish. Enter the parish of your choice and wait for the map to come up. There will be a dialog box with three tabs, ‘Info,’ ‘Options,’ and “Jurisdictions.’ Click ‘Info’ to find the year COE records began and what non-Anglican churches the LDS are aware of in the parish. If you go back, and click on ‘Options,’ one will be ‘Search the Family History Library Catalog.’ The LDS Church has a lot of UK records so it’s likely they will have what you need. You may order one online and read it at your nearest Family History Center.

At www.genuki.org.uk,  click on ‘Church Database.’ You are allowed to specify the parish, denomination and distance, then the program searches out all the churches that meet those criteria. Enter as much or as little as you want. It found 24 churches of various denominations within a three mile radius of Swaffham, Norfolk.  Each of them was clickable and gave the date it was established.
The traditional print source for this information is The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers, 3rd Edition, by Cecil R. Humphrey-Smith (2003). There is a copy in the larger genealogy collections in the U.S.  Go to www.worldcat.org, enter the title and your zip code, and it will tell you where the nearest copy is and how many miles it is away. Use interlibrary loan, if you can.

The best places to look for the registers or copies of them are the LDS Church, the UK county Records Offices and the National Archives, Kew. The name and contact information for the county records office like the Norfolk Records Office or the Lancashire Records Office is at www.genuki.org.uk and in Appendix VII of Ancestral Trails by Mark Herber.
The best free website that has real images of UK parish records is www.familysearch.org.

Now for the commercial sites:
          www.ancestry.com or www.ancestry.co.uk

          www.findmypast.co.uk (Site is changing as I write this to enter the U.S. market. It has a pay-as-you-go plan now.)
          www.thegenealogist.uk (Also a –pay-as-you-go site)

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

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