Monday, 25 August 2008

New project to replace DOVE?

For those devastated at the loss of the English and Welsh DOVE project, there may be a ray of hope peering through the murk. The Digitisation of Vital Events project was supposed to create a digitised collection of entries for births, marriages and deaths going back to 1837, but spectacularly collapsed just a few weeks ago, with the job only half completed. Whilst the images were not to be made available online, a secondary project called EAGLE (Electronic Access to GRO Legacy Events) was to create a series of online indices which would have made it considerably easier to find the right certificate to order.

The Federation of Family History Societies down south sent in a petition protesting at the collapse and a demand for the project to be restarted. The petition closed on July 26th, and the following response has just been received by the body:

The General Register Office (GRO) has a statutory obligation to make index data for registration records publicly available. Since the closure of the Family Records Centre in March 2008, it has provided copies of the indexesin microfiche format at several libraries and record offices across Englandand Wales. Many people who would previously have had to visit London to view the indexes are now able to do so much closer to home. Further details onwhere to search the full range of GRO indexes from 1837 to 2008 can be found at

GRO recognises that the creation of a publicly-accessible online index will be of even greater value to many family historians. GRO was transferred on 1 April 2008 from the Office for National Statistics to the Identity and Passport Service (IPS). IPS has confirmed that the creation of an accessible online index is a commitment which GRO will continue to work towards.

A necessary pre-requisite is that all the registration records from 1837 must be created in a digitised format. The project to achieve this has encountered delays, with about half the records currently digitised. IPS isi nvestigating a new project to complete the work and to address the requirement for an online index. At this stage options for the best method of implementation are being reviewed, and new timescales will be announced as soon as decisions based on the outcome of the review can be taken.

(With thanks to the FFHS)

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