England Orphan Trail: Using FreeBMD and Creating a Citation

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England Project | England Orphaned Profiles Team | England Orphan Trail Part One | England Orphan Trail Resources 1838-1957 | England Orphan Trail: Using FreeBMD and Creating a Citation

FreeBMD.org is an online database of entries in the GRO Index, it is a volunteer project whose aim is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales and provide free online access to those transcriptions. We primarily use it for marriages. For births and deaths refer to: GRO (General Records Office) User Guide.

Searching is very easy, you can search between September 1837, when Civil registration began, and 1993 which is the latest date currently transcribed, it is worth noting that most but not all indexes have been transcribed for this time period.

What information is included in the results?

  • Marriage entries: Spouse name (1912 onward)
  • Birth entries: Mother's name (third quarter 1911 onward)
  • Death entries: Age at death (1866 to first quarter 1969)
  • Death entries: Date of birth in death entry (Second quarter 1969 onward)

Searching and creating a citation for the entry

Let's do a search for a marriage entry, I've chosen Elizabeth Nicklin who married Joseph Shakespeare, there was no date or location for the marriage on either profile at the time of this search, but there was a son listed William George Shakespeare, all profiles were unsourced. From William George Shakespeare's profile we are given a date for the birth of 1878 in Smethwick, Staffordshire, England. So we can use this data to start searching for the marriage between Elizabeth Nicklin and Joseph Shakespeare.

There are many options when searching with FreeBMD, you can search within a County, Registration District, with just first names, or just surnames and with a large timeframe. So lots of options to find those records. Here is just a basic search with the names and using the birth year for the son, I searched one year after his birth date (Incase the birth date was incorrect as the profile was unsourced) and ten years before this date, I left the Counties and Districts to search all, but you can narrow down results if you know which County or District the event was registered in.

Once you click find you will be taken to the search results page. Below are the results for the search, there was only one result this time, so I didn't need to refine the search.

From here you can click on the page number to open up that page, which will display the names of all people on that page in the register, which is really useful for checking you have the correct result, or in the case of marriages for identifying a possible spouse.

Clicking on the spectacles for the entry you wish to use as a source will take you to the scan page as below:

From here scroll to the bottom of the page where it says "Citations" and copy and paste the URL (Web address) for your Source, do not copy the URL from the address bar, as FreeBMD is constantly being updated the URL from the address bar will quickly become outdated and your link will become broken, the link from the bottom of the page below "Citations" is a permalink, which means your link will not break.

Creating a Citation

A Citation is the text which tells us about the Source, it should have enough information so that another researcher can locate and verify the information. An easy way to remember what to include in your Citations are the W's :

Who the Source is about, What the Source is, Where the Source was found, (Where within so the GRO reference in the case of BMD's: Birth, marriage or Death? Year registered, Quarter, Volume, Page number. For books it would be Volume and page number etc. ) and When was the record last amended or transcribed (if known) and when was it accessed, so the date you viewed the source.

You can quickly and easily create a citation from FreeBMD.org by copying the information from the scan page.

We will start with the Title the What part, I am going to call it "Marriage Entry", next we will want that link and the Where part:

"Marriage Entry" (https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=VNpOZ4zI1OiZfKhpyd6Khg&scan=1) FreeBMD.org; database online.

Now we will want to add Who which in this case is Elizabeth Nicklin and Joseph Shakespeare and the Where within the GRO Reference, which you can copy from the top of the scan page and finally When.

Note that a pre-1913 FreeBMD marriage entry alone is not sufficient to identify both spouses, since multiple marriages were recorded on each page. Supporting evidence such as a census or GRO birth index entry for one of the couple's children (giving the mother's maiden name) is normally required. Placing the spouse (or possible spouses if you are unable to confirm who the spouse is) in square brackets indicates that there is a specific citation for the spouse on their own profile.

Now you have a full citation which gives all the information needed to be able to locate the record again and if someone wished they could order the marriage certificate from the GRO with the information from the citation!

England Project | England Orphaned Profiles Team | England Orphan Trail Part One | England Orphan Trail Resources1838-1957 | England Orphan Trail: Using FreeBMD and Creating a Citation

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Where is the help for citing a death?
posted on England Orphan Trail: Using FreeBMD and Creating a Citation (merged) by Derek Bingham
The process for creating a citation for a death is almost identical to a birth. You can find more examples, including an example citation of a FreeBMD entry for a death, on this page: England Orphan Trail Citation templates.
posted on England Orphan Trail: Using FreeBMD and Creating a Citation (merged) by I. Speed
edited by I. Speed