Newcomers to the soc.genealogy.britain/GENBRIT-L and soc.genealogy.ireland/GENIRE-L newsgroups/mailing lists, and to the various regional mailing lists (and people who've mislaid their bookmarks!) frequently post queries that could be easily answered by reference to the World Wide Web-based UK & Ireland Genealogical Information Service (GENUKI).
The purpose of this regularly-posted "FAQ file" is to give addresses (URLs) that can be used to go immediately to the GENUKI information resources that provide detailed answers to the above FAQs. It also provides answers to some questions that are often asked about GENUKI itself.
(In case you don't want to bookmark the URLs given here separately, and in order to give some examples of how to use GENUKI, this file also explains how to reach these pages by starting from the GENUKI home page, which is at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/. Incidentally, this present FAQ file is itself held in GENUKI, reachable directly from the home page.)
For new Internet users, it is therefore perhaps appropriate to start with a brief explanation of the differences between a mailing list and a newsgroup, and how these relate to the World Wide Web. (You may be reading this particular page via any of these three schemes!)
These three schemes of distributing information over the Internet were developed separately, and their use originally always involved different software packages, namely an "email system", a "news reader", and the more recent but now well-established concept of a "browser". Now, however, you will often find such software packages linked together, or provided as components of an overall system. What has not changed is that:
- Mailing lists are simply a means of automatically sending electronic mail to a known list of recipients - each of whom has indicated interest beforehand in receiving such mail by "subscribing" to the list. (Such subscription is usually free.) Thereafter the subscriber receives copies of all, or a digest of all, messages that are sent to the list, and is responsible for discarding the messages when they are no longer needed. Anyone can set up a mailing list. Mailing lists (and newsgroups) may be under some form of editorial control, but this can be an extremely onerous task so both typically function automatically, and so will accept and pass on all messages sent to them.
- News messages are distributed automatically to computers that are acting as "news servers". These computers will retain copies of the messages for some set period, possibly only just a few days, before discarding them. A news server is typically operated by the user's Internet Service Provider. The stored messages are organised into thousands of different newsgroups, ready for users to read when they so wish. Once a given message has been read by a user, it will disappear from the list of messages remaining to be read by that user, so that users have to arrange to store their own copies of messages that they might want to refer to again. Because all news messages in the major newsgroups are automatically sent to all news servers, world-wide, there is a complex, but democratic, set of procedures governing the creation of new newsgroups.
- Pages on the World Wide Web (or "web" for short) are, generally speaking, not automatically distributed like news or mail messages, but rather contain multi-media information that is held available on a computer that is functioning as a "web server". Such a web server is typically permanently connected to the Internet. A "web browser" automatically fetches copies of such pages on demand, so that they can be viewed, as the user follows (i.e. "clicks" on) links that are embedded in Web pages. These links thus tie web pages together into a huge "multi-media document", disguising the fact that different parts of this "document" are in fact held on different computers, located all around the world. (The answer to Q15 below may be of interest to you if you do not have means of "browsing" the Web.)
More help and information about how to use the genealogy newsgroups and mailing lists can be found in special FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) files - copies of which can be found via http://www.woodgate.org/FAQs/.
The aim of GENUKI is to serve as a comprehensive "virtual reference library" of genealogical information that is relevant to the UK & Ireland. It is organised so as to make it easy to find what information on what topics is available online related to given geographical localities (even down to parish level). It is a noncommercial service, provided by an ever-growing group of volunteers in cooperation with the Federation of Family History Societies and a number of its member societies. It is not just a "list of links" to information elsewhere but rather it also contains a large and ever-growing set of specially-produced information pages (over 88,000, containing nearly 2.5 Gbytes of text, as of January 2009).
More specifically, the GENUKI organization is an unincorporated charitable association. The trustees and contact details are listed at:
In the main, the information that is provided in GENUKI relates to primary historical material, (e.g. parish register and census transcripts, details of archives and their holdings, etc.), rather than material resulting from genealogists' ongoing research, such as GEDCOM files - for which there exist many other online repositories.
If you are reading this as a Web page, presumably reached via the GENUKI home page, at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/, then you can obtain an alternative, much fuller answer to this question by returning to this home page and following the link to "Guidance for First-Time Users of These Pages".
If you are reading this as a mailing list or newsgroup message, and are not familiar with using the Web, then what you need to do is use your browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, ...) to "open", i.e. fetch and display, the Web page at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/, which is the home page, or front door, to GENUKI, and proceed from there.
Incidentally, more volunteers willing to join in the GENUKI effort are always welcome - see GENUKI's "Help Us" page. This is to be found from the Home Page, or directly at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/org/helpus.html
Reading an introductory book, almost any that you could find in your local library, would be a good idea. However, you can find a number of online tutorial articles and introductory texts in GENUKI. There is, for example, "Getting Started in Genealogy" at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/gs/, and an extensive tutorial text, the "A-Z of British Genealogical Research", at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/EmeryPaper.html
(You can find these and other introductory articles by following the link "Getting started in genealogy" which you will find on GENUKI's home page.)
GENUKI provides a searchable database containing details of places in England, Wales and the IOM, in the 1891 census. You can find this at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/census_place.html.
(You can also find a link to these, from under "Gazetteers", on both the England and Wales pages of GENUKI.)
GENUKI also provides what is in effect a 19th century gazetteer of England and Wales. This is the alphabetical Index to Places in England and Wales covered by the Local Registration Offices. This index is at: http://www.ukbmd.org.uk/genuki/places/index.html
(You can find this via the link "alphabetical index" under "Civil Registration" on the England page.)
The Ordnance Survey provides a modern gazetteer, covering all the place names on their 1:50,000 Landranger Maps of England, Scotland and Wales at http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/products/50k-gazetteer/index.html. (This has over a quarter of a million placenames, for each of which it gives the modern county, National Grid reference, latitude, and longitude.) Alternatively, you can use the search facilities of one of the commercially-provided online modern road atlases (covering England, Scotland, and Wales) that are linked to from under "Maps" on GENUKI's UK & Ireland page.
For locating places in Ireland, try the Place Name Search facility provided by the Irish Times, or the Online Gazetteer of Irish Parishes provided by the National Archives of Ireland. Links to these sites are to be found under "Gazetteers" on the GENUKI Ireland page.
Very detailed Gazetteers are also available in GENUKI for some counties - see the individual county pages.
The answer is almost certainly "Yes". You should be able to find details about the Society (including a link to its Web pages, if there are any) under the heading "Societies" on the relevant county page, assuming you know which county to look in. However, http://www.genuki.org.uk/Societies/ provides a listing of family history societies organised by country and county for use if you don't.
(Alternatively this listing can be reached by using the link "details of all these societies", under "Societies" in the UK & Ireland page.)
There is a page listing all the UK and Ireland counties which you can use to find out whether there is a Surnames List (i.e list of who is researching what names, where) for a given county. This page is at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/indexes/SurnamesLists.html
There is a page listing all the counties which you can use to find out the relevant mailing list(s) for any given county. This page is at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/indexes/MailingLists.html
(Alternatively you can reach this page via the link "e-mail lists" under "Genealogy" in the UK & Ireland page.)
More generally, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/%7Ejfuller/gen_mail.html is very extensive listing of subject-oriented genealogy mailing lists, as well as lists for all parts of the world.
In general no, but there are some limited resources available - you might be able to get some help via a relevant mailing list, or could engage the services of a professional researcher. In fact how you might find such information yourself depends greatly on where and when the event occurred.
For example, if it was in England or Wales before 1837, then this was before the beginning of Civil Registration, and answering the question can be quite difficult even if the parish in which the event occurred is known. Two starting points: (i) check the relevant parish page in GENUKI, which should provide, or point you to, information about what parish registers exist, and (ii) use the facilities provided by FreeREG at http://www.freereg.org.uk/ to find if the relevant register has already been transcribed and added to its database.
However for events that occurred in England or Wales after civil registration was introduced, such lookups, while they may be time-consuming, are well within the ability of any researcher, since national (G.R.O - General Register Office, formerly "St Catherines House") indexes are available, have been microfilmed by the LDS, and in large measure are now available on line in FreeBMD at http://www.freebmd.org.uk/. This indexing information can be used to obtain certificates - see below. Extensive information about civil registration, and - for earlier events - about parish church records can be found throughout GENUKI.
You can use the Index to Places in England and Wales (at: http://www.ukbmd.org.uk/genuki/places/index.html) to determine the appropriate register office, and then the list of Register Offices at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/RegOffice/ to find its address. (You can also find these links starting "Civil Registration" in the GENUKI England page, and many GENUKI county pages list all the local register offices in the county - under "Civil Registration".) Note, however, that Scottish civil registration records are more conveniently and cheaply obtained from the Scottish General Register Office than from Local Register Offices - see under "Civil Registration" on the GENUKI/Scotland page.
For England and Wales, this is explained in page http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/civreg/index.html.
(You can reach this page from under "Civil Registration" in the England page.)
Scottish certificates can be obtained from the General Register Office for Scotland - see http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/sct/intro.html#GRO. This is appropriate when officially verified certificates are rquired for legal purposes, but digital images of BMD entries will often suffice and are available from ScotlandsPeople at much lower cost.
(See also under "Civil Registration" in the GENUKI Scotland page.)
In the case of England and Wales, nearly all surviving Parish Registers are now deposited in the appropriate County Record Office (CRO). You should be able to find details of the CRO under "Archives and Libraries" in the relevant county page. Registers of the Church of Scotland prior to 1855 have all been digitised. An index to these and images of the Registers may be consulted at New Register House in Edinburgh or online at ScotlandsPeople. Microfilm versions of the Registers may also be seen in libraries and Family History Societies in many parts of the world, and in LDS family history centres. For guidance on later Church of Scotland registers, as well as registers of other churches in Scotland, see under "Church Records" on the GENUKI/Scotland page. In addition a growing number of counties have pages in GENUKI for all the parishes in the county, each of which gives (or points to) details about what registers have survived for that parish and where they are to be found.
The Federation of Family History Societies has an on-line bookshop, or rather set of separate bookstands, via which its own list of approximately 400 publications, plus those of over a hundred other organisations (mainly family history societies), are available. This is at http://www.genfair.co.uk/.
The Society of Genealogists is another major publisher, with a list of nearly 400 books - these are available at http://www.sog.org.uk/orderline/orderline.shtml.
(An easy way to find a link to the Society of Genealogists' web pages, and to those of the Federation of Family History Societies, and hence to their book catalogues, is to look under "Societies" in the UK & Ireland page.)
A full transcription of the 1881 census for the United Kingdom (excl. Ireland) is available for purchase on CD-ROM from the Latter Day Saints. (They also provide a free online search facility for this at https://www.familysearch.org/) The LDS also make available a CD-ROM containing the complete census for 1851 for the counties of Devon, Norfolk and Warwickshire.
The 1881 Census C.D. set is £29.95
The 1851 Three Counties disk is £5.95
Credit card or cheque payable to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Within the UK, these CD-ROMs are available from:
LDS Distribution Centre
399 Garretts Green Lane
Tel: 08700 10 20 51
Fax: 08700 10 20 52
CD-ROM versions of the Census are also available from commercial suppliers such as the British Data Archive, GENFair, and S&N Genealogy Supplies.
Commercial organizations providing online (paid subscriber) access to images and transcripts of the Census, typically 1841-1901, include Ancestry.co.uk, The Genealogist, Find My Past and RootsUK.
The 1901 census is available online at the official site http://www.1901censusonline.com/. (The index is free, everything else is pay per view.)
The official 1911 census site ("powered by Find my Past") now covers all of England and Wales. The (detailed) index is free - transcripts and images require payment.
You should browse the National Archives's own web pages, which are at: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/, and which include an index to their large collection of very helpful information leaflets at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/atoz/default.htm.
For Scottish records, see the website of the National Archives of Scotland which gives details of the records held and a range of handbooks to help you make the best of them.
Those who only have e-mail can retrieve pages and documents using the Web-to-email service called "GetWeb" provided by HREA (Human Rights Education Associates). You can find out more about GetWeb by sending a e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving the subject line empty and writing in the message:
You will then receive an e-mail with more detailed information on how to use GetWeb.
Please note that the GetWeb service is no substitute for a real web browser. Moreover, should you have full web access, then this is not a sensible way of browsing the web off-line. If you have "proper" access to the web, then get a proper off-line web browser for that purpose and leave the GetWeb service to work on behalf of those who really need it.
Please check http://www.genuki.info/ for information about any current access problems with the particular servers used for various parts of GENUKI.
This is a fine question to send to a relevant newsgroup or mailing list. However, as is explained on the GENUKI home page, please do NOT send general genealogical queries to the email address given for contacting the GENUKI maintainers as it is very unlikely that we have the expertise (or time) to answer them. It may seem impolite but do not expect any reply to such queries.
Contributors to this file include Bob Muchamore and Barry Ruck. Suggestions for improving it would be welcome, and should be sent to: Brian.Randell@ncl.ac.uk
[Last updated 3 Jun 2012]