December 24, 2010

12 Months of Finding Ancestors: Free BMD Postems

Mike of Genealogy Gazette mentioned a little known and under-used resource for genealogists on his Twitter feed. I checked it out and realized he's right - it's a gold mine for genealogists that is overlooked for the most part!

Those of us with English ancestry no doubt know of Free BMD. This is the volunteer based website where you can search indexes to find the GRO reference for birth, marriage and death certificates. It's invaluable. I use it frequently. But I never realized there is a little feature called Postems.

Postems allow visitors to add information to an index entry once found. So a genealogist could find an entry for an ancestor, send for the certificate and then enter some of the details on the Postem for that index entry. Mike pointed out that if more genealogists filled these out we could all benefit.

Of course we have to avoid posting copyright material so I personally would not copy and submit the actual certificate word for word. But there's no reason a summary could not be submitted - for a birth registration you could simply submit the parents' names.

After reading Mike's tip, I immediately went to Free BMD and started adding my Postems for ancestors whose certificates I have, and who are found in the index on that site. I simply added one or two sentences such as this one for the marriage index entry for my ancestor Charles Simpson

"Charles Simpson married Sally Page. I have photos. Contact me at lorine@blah.com"
Now anyone looking for Charles will hopefully see that Postem and can contact me!

Further exploration of the FreeBMD website revealed that visitors can search all Postems! So I searched for "SIMPSON" I was amazed to get 220 hits! These are all Postems, that is, user-added notes and details. I'm not about to slog through all 220 so I simply began adding more targeted keywords to find the Simpson entries I would be interested in.

What a great resource. I hope all my readers with English ancestry will give it a try and start adding their own Postems. My New Year's Resolution is to add *ALL* of my English ancestors' certificate details to the FreeBMD Postems in the year 2011. Why  not join me?

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

FreeBMD's sister site, FreeREG.org.uk, is nowhere near as populated as FreeBMD but for places where the transcriptions have been done it is absolutely marvellous. And they can always use more transcribers from anywhere in the world.