Friday, 30 July 2010

Roots Ireland - missing births

I don't know whether to laugh or cry here....

I was delighted when the Irish Family History Foundation announced that it had revamped its Roots Ireland website ( recently, not only to provide better search terms but also to provide a discount for the records of multiple vital events in a family group.

Tonight I decided to do a search for children to my great great grandparents Edwin Graham and Florence Halliday of Belfast, who had previously married in 1881 in England. I already knew of most of the names of the children that they had, and the rough year of birth, identified either from census records or from the old index to the IFHF site. The records on the IFHF site for Antrim have been provided by the Ulster Historical Foundation, and many of them have previously been made available also on the UHF's own site at

From the UHF site I had already obtained the dates of birth of two of the children - Alexander William Graham born 7 SEP 1889 and baptised two weeks later on the 19th; and Frederick Graham, born July 6th 1901 and baptised July 29th. In addition, from military records, I had the birth date of another brother, Gerald Graham on March 11th 1895.

A parent search on the IFHF's Roots Ireland site tonight returned ten children to the couple, including the three noted. I paid 20 Euros - what a bargain! - only to then discover with horror that the UHF supplied records on the site do not contain the same information that I had previously discovered on the UHF's own site.

So what is missing? Fairly fundamentally, would you believe that the date of birth is missing from these civil birth records from Belfast? The info on the Roots Ireland site is labelled "Date of baptism/Birth", but the date given in the three examples that I do already have dates for are not birth dates, but baptism dates. The real irritation is that the records are clearly labelled "Civil Birth Record" at the top.

Now maybe I am just being picky as a genealogist, but I call that a seriously fundamental error for any genealogical organisation to make. Why are the birth dates not being made available? They have clearly been transcribed by the UHF, where both birth and baptism dates are supplied. The following are screengrabs showing the difference in the info supplied - the first from the Roots Ireland site, the second as obtained previously from the UHF website:

Does this just apply to the IFHF records for Antrim - or is it more widespread for other counties?

I would strongly urge everyone using the site to check what you are finding. You may not be getting all the information that you think you are. I have emailed the IFHF and asked them to explain the discrepancy.

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Mike said...

At 5 EUR/record with no more guiding information than a name, county and year, I instantly lost interest in using Roots Ireland's facility. Every name I put in there yields at least ten identical records for a single year (assuming that is correct), so I could

Chris Paton said...

I think your comment got cut off there Mike. But I know where you are coming from - all I can say is the site is now much more user friendly. Thankfully!