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FreeBMD provides transcriptions of documents in the civil registration index (primarily births, marriages and deaths) from the UK. All documents are free to explore, and they also offer substantial advice and relevant links for potential transcribers.
The site is quite limited in terms of what it offers, but may prove useful if you are interested in the very particular area of history it documents; namely, births, deaths and marriages in the UK (and then, mainly England and Wales). It’s part of the Free UK Genealogy group (along with FreeREG parish registers and FreeCEN which provides census data). Using the three sites, and with some persistence, there’s a lot of information here.
Searching for documents isn’t as user friendly as we’d like, and a quick look at this site will show you that it’s a charity/volunteer led initiative. That’s a nice way of saying it’s very basic. It lacks simple tools and additional features, really only allowing you to search for, and access, transcribed documents.
There are over 200 million distinct records to explore, which is an impressive number considering the set up. Actually, the site is updated regularly, so new documents are always being added to the database.
You can join FreeBMD.com and join in with various transcription projects which are running. If you’re interested in these projects, you can sign up for regular updates or check the website. The website also offers a lot of information regarding the technical sides of transcription, which may only make sense to people who’ve been involved in the activity for some time.
Unless you’re looking for one very particular document (a death, birth or marriage in the UK) then you probably won’t find it here. Searching and filtering through results isn’t all that simple, and the site is generally very text heavy, which can make it more difficult to explore.
We can’t really fault Free BMD for price (it’s free!) and its heart seems to be in the right place. However, we didn’t find it very exciting or user friendly. The most multi-media aspect on the website is their selection of free images, but even that’s a bit of a snooze.
Still, visitors may not be expecting history to ‘come to life’ and when it comes to raw data in a particular field, Free BMD does its job. If you’re looking for a particular document (image or transcribed) and you think it might be on FreeBMD, it’s worth taking a few minutes to explore the site. Otherwise, we don’t think it’ll serve a great purpose for many people.
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