Giving Back – FreeReg / FreeCen / FreeBMD

It’s that time of year when giving is often foremost in people’s minds so I thought I’d do a post on giving back to the genealogical community.

My family tree research has involved my own legwork – getting certificates and finding other source records, and other family members’ legwork (thanks!!).  Now I’m back in New Zealand, most of my “legwork” comes from online sources.  So I am reliant on the work of a huge community of Helpful People (and organisations).

A while back I came across a website called FreeReg where they were transcribing UK parish registers.  It helped me immensely with a branch of my tree, so I had a look into volunteering for the project.  I discovered that FreeReg is one of three projects that are aiming to bring free information to genealogical researchers.  Collectively know as the FreeUKGEN family, the other two are FreeCen and Free BMD.

Volunteering was easy and it only took an hour or two a week but you can contribute as much time as you like.  You only need a computer and some free time.  You can be anywhere in the world and if you have more time, then you could also take on the co-ordinator role for a county.  I’ve recently had a break due to the arrival of my daughter, but it’s been good to know that I’ve provided information to help other people.

If you know of any other projects which you can volunteer for, please leave details in a comment below.

Here’s a run down on each of these projects:


“Our objective is to provide free Internet searches of baptism, marriage, and burial records, that have been transcribed from parish and non-conformist registers of the U.K.  We are in need of volunteers willing to transcribe registers, to make their existing transcriptions available on FreeREG or undertake one of the many supporting tasks.”

“The FreeREG database contains 3,298,045 Marriages, 9,153,460 Baptisms and 6,303,253 Burials. The last update started on Tue 20 Dec 2011 and was completed on Tue 20 Dec 2011.”

You have to admit that’s a lot of records!!!

How to volunteer

Current coverage


“This project aims to provide a “free-to-view” online searchable database of the 19th century UK census returns.  The number of volunteers has grown since its inception in 1999 to 125 in December 2000. It doubled to 250 for June 2001, over 500 in 2003 and currently has 2000+ as of July 2005.  We are constantly looking for new volunteers. We need help with Transcribing and Checking. We transcribe and check from Micro Fiche and from CD’s, so you have a choice depending upon which Census year you volunteer to help with.”

How to volunteer

Current coverage


“FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records.  The recording of births, marriages and deaths was started in 1837 and is one of the most significant resources for genealogical research. The transcribing of the records is carried out by teams of dedicated volunteers and contains index information for the period 1837-1983.”

How to volunteer

Current coverage