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Online BMD Tutorials.

Civil Registration

From the start of Civil Registration all births and deaths have had to be registered at the local Register Office. Likewise, marriages would be registered at the venue or at the Register Office. Quarterly, all of the registration entries were copied and sent to the General Register Office (GRO). So, there are two versions of the registers, an original held at the local Register Office and a copy held at the General Register Office. Indexes to both of these register sets are finding there way online via websites such as Cheshire BMD and Free BMD. Although the GRO copies have national coverage, they are well known for their errors and omissions due to the copying process that created them. By working from the original registers the local BMD websites aim to offer a more accurate and complete set compared to the GRO versions.

The aim of the tutorials on this page is to introduce the various websites in the Local BMD Project and explain how to get the best from them, and also highlight the differences between them and the GRO versions.

The Tutorials

Since the beginning of the Local BMD Project I have had the pleasure and honour of being asked to speak at various Family History Society and U3A meetings to talk about the various Local BMD websites and how to get the best results from them. I'm usually asked to speak for about an hour, so some of my examples often can't be used due to the time constraints.

One suggestion made to me was to turn my talk into a series of videos, so here they are. This series of short video tutorials are my talk split into self-contained small chunks. I recommend that you view them in order first, but then dip in at random if you need a refresher.

The tutorials are all on the YouTube website and so I hope that the video controls should be familiar to most of you. I recommend that you view these in full-screen mode by using the YouTube control which will appear in the bottom right of the video once you have started playing it.


An introduction to the content of this series and giving basic details on the civil registration process.

Tutorial Length: 5:58 mins

Birth, Marriage & Death Records - A Guide for Family Historians

The book mentioned in the introduction and shown here on the left is an excellent guide to all aspects of tracing birth, marriages and deaths in the UK, covering parish registers, civil registration, non-conformist registers, overseas events and much more.

Also mentioned in the introduction are the two books by Michael Whitfield Foster - A Comedy of Errors. These can be obtained directly from the author on his website.

Layout of the Local BMD websites

This tutorial covers the basic content of the various Local BMD websites and demonstrates where to find the various pages on the websites and what you will find on them.

Tutorial Length: 5:09 mins
Births Searching - Part 1

This tutorial demonstrates a search of the births indexes, showing how you can start with a wide search and then gradually narrow down the search options to improve your chances of finding an entry. This tutorial also covers how to order a copy certificate. This is the longest of the main tutorials on the Local BMDs, but if you only have time to watch one, then this would be the one to look at.

Tutorial Length: 12:46 mins.
Births Searching - Part 2

In this second tutorial on births we see a comparison between the results when searching on a full first-name and when using just an initial.

Tutorial Length: 4:04 mins.
Births Searching - Part 3

In this third tutorial on births the options for searching via mother's maiden name are explained.

Tutorial Length: 5:01 mins.
Marriages Searching - Part 1

This first tutorial on marriages covers the basic features of a marriage search, and compares the results to those you might see using the GRO's data. The Adjacent Entries feature on the Summary Page is also demonstrated.

Tutorial Length: 7:44 mins.
Marriages Searching - Part 2

The second tutorial on marriages covers a further example of searching where you might know a lady's married name, but not her maiden name.

Tutorial Length: 4:41 mins
Deaths Searching

Death searches are covered here, showing a basic search, then following on with a search for a person born in a specific year.

Tutorial Length: 5:07 mins.
Multi-Region Searches

This tutorial covers the multi-region search option that allows all the regions involved in the Local BMD Project to be searched in one go. Multiple marriages are also touched on.

Tutorial Length: 5:22 mins.
Spelling Variations

Lost an ancestor? Possibly their name was spelled differently, or just mis-spelled. This tutorial covers the various options for searches that look for names based on how they sound, rather than how they were spelled.

Tutorial Length: 7:35 mins.
Summary Page Features

The Summary page has several useful features that have not been talked about in the previous tutorials, such as the ability to change the order in which the entries are displayed on the Summary page.

Tutorial Length: 5:03 mins.
Downloading Results to files

The two places where your search results can be downloaded to files are demonstrated here. The tutorial mentions Libre Office's free spreadsheet program, but obviously any spreadsheet will open the saved files equally well.

Tutorial Length: 5:36 mins.
Local BMD to GRO BMD region name differences

The GRO often combined BMD data from several regions into one larger region, so there is often a difference of region and district names between the Local BMD and GRO BMD. This tutorial highlights an example of this, and also demonstrated how you can confirm that the index pages are from equivalent areas.

Tutorial Length: 7:02 mins.
It will be all right on the night... - out-takes

Once in a while a high priority interruption comes along...

Tutorial Length: 1:05 mins.
  • These tutorial videos have been written, produced & edited by Ian Hartas © 2016
  • Screen capture sections were created using SimpleScreenRecorder
  • Editing, titles and final production was done using Kdenlive
  • Hosting of the videos is by YouTube
  • A complete office suite of programs can be found on the LibreOffice website. Includes a spreadsheet program, word processor, multimedia presentations and more. With the aim of being compatible with and a replacement for Microsoft's Office suite. All for free!

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