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Oxfordshire Family History Society

What's on the Internet for Genealogists

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"What's on the Internet for Genealogists" was the title of the talk given to the Computer Group on 1st February 2000 by Wendy Archer and Malcolm Austen. This page accompanies the revised second edition talk given on 1st October 2001.

So, who are Wendy and Malcolm ...

Wendy is "list owner" for the Rootsweb "Oxfordshire-l" forum, maintains the GenWeb pages for Oxfordshire, is on the Oxfordshire FHS committee (helps to run the Computer Group among other things) and is active in the Guild of One-name Studies.

Malcolm is "list-owner" for the Society's member-only email forum, maintains the GenUKI pages for Oxfordshire, is on the Oxfordshire FHS committee (helps to run the Computer Group and is webmaster for this site) and is on the Publicity sub-committee of the Federation of Family History Societies.

By the way, both have a life outside Family History, or so it is rumoured!

What is the Internet?

While the talk itself will assume some basic familiarity with the internet, newcomers may find these two links of use. They link to the pages for two previous talks given by Malcolm:

For help on searching the internet, have a look at the page that accompanied the Computer Group's talk on searching.

The talk covers four basic aspects of Family History on the 'Net
Guide material
Sites that form an online library resource.
Databases (some free, some chargeable)
Sites that provide an online lookup service for transcribed Family History data.
Mailing lists
Each (there are hundreds) provides a forum for the exchange of queries, answer, discoveries and opinions among people with some common interest.
Increasingly books, fiche and CDs of relevance to family historians can be tracked down and even purchased over the 'net.

Before looking in details, lets just list the web sites of the 'major players' in UK Family History
The National Archives (was the Public Record Office)
Office for National Statistics
Society of Genealogists
Federation of Family History Societies
Guild of One-name Studies
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
UK http://www.lds.org.uk
Salt Lake City http://www.lds.org

Guide material
GENUKI http://www.genuki.org.uk/

This is considered by many to be the number one starting point for UK & Irish Family history on the web. It is organised in a hierarchy with pages for England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands fanning out into county and, in some cases, parish pages.


GENWEB http://worldgenweb.org/

This is superficially similar to GENUKI but with a world-wide umbrella. Overall however it makes the variability on GENUKI look like consistency and many parts have a distinct US-centric feel to them.


Cyndi's List http://www.cyndislist.com/

This is a massive portal. A classified directory to all sorts of family history related web sites. Just remember that it is intended as just that, a directory, it makes no claims to hold data or information itself.


SoG: Essential Web Sites http://www.sog.org.uk/library/links.shtml

Much smaller than Cyndi's list, this makes a more manageable starting point for those with limited time and experience of sifting through large numbers of alternatives.



Many organisations, regional, national and international, have web sites offering refeernce material.

Find a society's web site isn't very hard. Sometime the site name is less than obvious but someone has a little list! Who? Well, the FFHS has a list of its member societies but not all societies are members. GENUKI has a list that pretty much covers them all and refers to the FFHS list when it is appropriate.

GENUKI http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/genuki/Societies/
FFHS http://www.ffhs.org.uk/members2/contacting.php

Here are some of the major national sources of 'online leaflets':

Federation of Family History Societies
Society of Genealogists
Parish Register transcripts
Guild of One-name Studies
The National Archives (was the Public Record Office)
Research Guides http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/researchguidesindex.asp?j=1
Census http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/census/
Office for National Statistics
Obtaining certificates:
Births - http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/births/obtainingbirthcertificates/index.asp
Marriages - http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/marriages/obtainingmarriagecertificates/index.asp
Deaths - http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/deaths/obtainingdeathcertificates/index.asp
The fees are detailed here - http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/research/obtainingcertificates/certificatefees.asp
Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City)



Most organisations have a list of events on their web site, some may even be up to date!

This list is run as a joint venture between GENUKI and the FFHS. Events are simply listed by date giving their location. Details are supplied simply by a link to the event's own web pages (or sometime an email link). If you know of an event that isn't listed, tell the event organiser, not me!
Society of Genealogists


FamilySearch (LDS) http://www.familysearch.org/


FreeBMD http://FreeBMD.RootsWeb.com/


FreeUKGen http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/genuki/FreeUKGEN-FAQ.html


English Origins http://www.englishorigins.com


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission http://www.cwgc.org/


The National Archives catalogues and online records http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/catalogues-and-online-records.htm


Surname Interests

There are many listings of surname interests both on and off the internet.

Starting close to home, this list is run by Paul Brazell for those interested in Oxfordshire families and the wider interests of Oxfordshire FHS members..
GenUKI: Area surname lists
Such lists exist for most parts of the UK, they are listed by GENUKI.
RootsWeb Surname List


Ordnance Survey
Free GB Maps - http://www.ordsvy.gov.uk/freegb/index.htm
Aerial Photos
Streetmap.co.uk has aerial views for some parts of the country.
e.g. http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?


Streets and addresses
Royal Mail - postcode and address finder
Directory Enquiries, well almost - InfoDisk on-line


Mailing lists
Regional lists
  • OXFORDSHIRE-L@rootsweb.com


Surname lists


private (members-only) lists


General lists
  • OLD-ENGLISH-L@rootsweb.com
News lists
  • SOG-NEWS-L@rootsweb.com
  • FFHS-NEWS@maillist.ox.ac.uk


Finding the list you want


Rootsweb lists have archives available


SoG bookshop http://www.sog.org.uk/bookshop/


FFHS bookshop http://www.ffhs.co.uk/


TNA bookshop http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/bookshop/


GenFair http://www.genfair.com/


Individual Societies
  • Some have their own online shop
  • Some have a "stall" at the SoG or Genfair (or both)
  • Those that don't probably have a price list online


This has, inevitably, been little more than an overview.

If you feel the need to read some more paper before starting your online reading have a look at Peter Christian's book "Finding Genealogy on the Internet" (the full text of this 2002 booklet is on Peter's web site) or Peter's more recent and much larger "The Genealogist's Internet"

If you want some more online reading to help you along the way, here are some useful starting out guides (not specific to Oxfordshire or the Internet):

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This page was last updated on October 14, 2012