The FreeBMD Project

FreeBMD stands for Free Births, Marriages, and Deaths. The FreeBMD Project's objective is to provide free Internet access to the Civil Registration index information from England and Wales. The Civil Registration system for recording births, marriages, and deaths in England and Wales has been in place since 1837 and is one of the most significant single resources for genealogical research back to Victorian times.

The FreeBMD Project will place on the Internet Civil Registration index information. The main focus of the project is currently the seventy eight year period from 1837 to 1915.

The indexes to this information on births, marriages, and deaths provide a first step to the genealogy researcher in determining important facts about an individual ancestor. The GENUKI page Civil Registration in England and Wales provides guidance as to how one can then make use of these entries to purchase the certificate(s) which provide actual genealogical information.

Additional information regarding using Civil Registration certificates in genealogical research may be found at the FreeBMD Civil Registration page.

The need for FreeBMD

The Civil Registration indexes have been freely available from a variety of non-electronic sources for some time now. Small parts of the indexes have already been placed on the Internet. In addition, the Civil Registration indexes for Scotland, which are separate from those of England and Wales, have already been placed online on a pay-per-view basis at Scotland's People.

Usually available on microfilm or microfiche, the Civil Registration indexes can be illegible due to the varying quality of microreproduction. There is not currently any centrally available method for rapidly searching the indexes. They were originally created alphabetically by quarters and have not been consolidated into a master index. Older marriage records have not been cross-indexed, making them extremely tedious to use.

The creation of a freely accessible Internet-based database of the Civil Registration index information coupled with a free search engine facility will greatly enhance a researcher's ability to quickly and easily locate all the index entries of potential relevance. It will also permit the double-checking and eventual correction of the indexes.

Searching FreeBMD

A researcher will visit the FreeBMD web site and enter their ancestor's surname, first name(s), whether a birth, marriage or death is of interest and so on. Additional search criteria such as year of the event, registration district, etc. may also be entered to help narrow the search. Wildcards and multiple selections can also be used (e.g. select several registration districts to be searched simultaneously).

The search facility will return all results which match the search criteria (though we may limit the total number to avoid overload). With the information provided from the results (Event, Quarter & Year, Surname, First name(s), Registration District, Volume Number, Page Number, Submitter) the researcher will hopefully be able to ascertain the correct index reference (volume and page numbers) for the birth, marriage, or death of interest. These reference numbers can then be used further to research this ancestor.

Gathering data for FreeBMD 

Using volunteers throughout the world, the FreeBMD Project leadership will co-ordinate the entry of the Civil Registration indexes. Data entered into the database will be available for access through the search facility. The database will be updated periodically with the latest available data.

The co-ordinated extraction of Civil Registration index information will be performed under the guidance of the FreeBMD Project leadership. Extraction and data entry assignments will be planned and co-ordinated by the Project leaders and volunteer co-ordinators so the FreeBMD Project makes orderly progress towards its goal.

All data will be entered at least twice by independent transcribers in order to ensure correctness.

The Growth of FreeBMD Project

It will take a long time to finish, but it is already being useful to researchers a lot earlier than the estimated end date. Of course, the more people help, the sooner it will be done.

It was estimated that at the start of the Project we would complete the years 1837 to 1901 by the end of December 2007.

This target was substantially achieved in July 2005. (Though as at July 2005 there were still some odd gaps in events/quarters before 1902 but these were counterbalanced by completions in events/quarters after 1901).

By the end of September 2007 years 1837 to 1918 were substantially completed. (Though as at September 2007 there were still some odd gaps in events/quarters before 1919 but these were counterbalanced by completions in events/quarters after 1918).

The years 1837-1989 have been substantially completed as of 2021.

Current statistics on the database to date are available here.

Helping FreeBMD 

The FreeBMD Project is ENTIRELY dependent on the efforts of volunteers all over the world in order to complete the project.

For information on contributing to the project as a transcriber click here.

You can also join one of our FreeBMD mailing lists by clicking here.

Currently, we are looking for people to help in the following areas:  Transcribers; Web page design and maintenance; Graphic design; Programming.


The above article was extracted from the FreeBMD FAQ page, where you will much more information.

Details of how to get the best from a search and how to volunteer are posted at the FreeBMD Web site at: .



Website by Michael A Parle

This page last changed on 11 November 2021