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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 10:51 GMT
Family history gets online boost
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The full register of every birth, death and marriage in England and Wales since 1837 has been put online to help genealogists trace family ties.

The searchable online register brings together data that was previously spread across several different offices and family record centres.

The register allows people to find out the index number for births, marriages and deaths so they can order copies of the certificates that marked the event.

The company that has set up the register charges a registration fee of 5 and users must pay a small fee for every index they view.

History lesson

The online index dates from the time when centralised records of births, deaths and marriages began to be kept.

Genealogy is hugely popular online because many websites have made it possible to browse and view records that previously were hard to get at.

The master indices of birth, death and marriage records for England and Wales are held at the Family Records Centre in London and copies of certificates are issued by the General Register Office.

"To date the information available online has been patchy at best," said Colin Miller of 1837online.com, "but now people can browse any index and search for particular records, all in one place."

The company has taken scans of all the index pages which can be searched using full or partial surnames, approximate date or a combination of the two.

The index covers records for England and Wales but not Scotland.

The unified register has been put online by 1837online.com a sister company to Title Research which provides genealogy services to lawyers.

Genealogists who do not want to pay to get access to the birth, marriage and death records can try the FreeBMD website which is slowly putting all records online for free.

So far it has put 70,719,113 records out of a total of 80,126,595 entries online covering the period between 1837 and 1903.

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