Thursday, September 27, 2007

Closure of the Family Records Centre, London, England

Many family historians and genealogists, including members of the international Federation of Family History Societies, continue to protest the planned closure of the Family Records Centre in London, England. The timetable for this closure was accelerated with little notice to users.

No longer will there be free access to the index books for birth, marriage and death registrations for England and Wales. The promised provision of a new on-line digitized index is still a long, long way away---the project is at least a year behind schedule--- and likely will involve a cost to researchers.

For genealogists and family historians overseas like myself who have English and Welsh ancestors this will be a blow, as it is to researchers in England and Wales.

I have been lucky enough to visit the Family Records Centre on my past travels; on these trips I've used other research institutions nearby too. This has always made my London visits 'genealogically worthwhile'. The London tourist trade will likely lose my custom in future, but there are other consequences for overseas researchers.

The much appreciated volunteers involved in the on-line FreeBMD project which most overseas researchers depend on relies on visits to the Family Records Centre to photograph the many unreadable handwritten registration index pages. These volunteers have been scrambling to photograph as much as possible before access is denied at the end of this week.

For more about this, see the Federation of Family History Societies website:

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