Free stuff

26 June 2016

In the normal way of things, our first port of call for our day-to-day research is either FindMyPast or Ancestry. These are the two main commercial providers in the field and they have a wide variety of indexes, transcriptions and digitised records for a vast number of countries around the world. Of course, there are copious other online sources and Cyndi’s List provides “a comprehensive, categorized and cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online”.

This week, I have been reminded of the immense value of some of the free resources. It’s not like I didn’t know they existed before and this was some kind of epiphany! But you get used to using the sites you always use on a daily basis, and simply forget to dig into your Favourites (otherwise known as ‘the box of tricks’!). You cannot get everything for free in family history research (by a long shot!) but some of the sites have a wealth of information which is not available online elsewhere. Team FWL use FreeBMD all day long but FreeReg had slipped off the radar and today, we have been delving into the treasure trove of Somerset records. If you have Somerset ancestors, get down to FreeReg.

Many readers will know that I (MD@FWL) do a surname study on the name Sillifant (and variants). The files of certificates, transcripts, censuses etc. are vast (the spare room shelves at home will testify to this) and, over the years, I have spent out a huge amount on certificates to pin down which Samuel/William/John Sillifant is which. Although they are not particular marriages of interest, it was pleasing to find the marriage of Caroline Maud Sillifant to Herbert Greenstock in 1905 (Yeovil) and Ella Silliphant (should be Sillifant) to Thomas Henry Craig Stevenson in 1900 (Weston-Super-Mare). The transcripts can now be saved on file and another marriage from the indexes ticked off – details held √

Thinking out of the box is a crucial skill at FWL. The box of tricks has been raided today…. onward to more fascinating finds! I may be some time….

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