Friday 9 March 2018

FindMyPast creates new indexes to Irish civil register images

FindMyPast has uploaded new indexes to the Civil Births and Marriages register images held on state-managed Search results provide transcriptions of all the details from each register entry (excepting annotations) and a link to the pdf held on of the register page. Like, all the data is provided free, although a registered account – not a subscription – is needed to view results.

The announcement of the upload says there are more than 2.7million transcripts in the Births Index and more than 2.6million transcripts in the Marriage Index. Unfortunately, there is no indication of the span of years or the geographical areas covered.

I've run a couple of comparison tests. Because the numbers are small and manageable, I've used Santry as the test surname for the Births Indexes. On there are 170 births with the name Santry or Sauntry from 1864 to 1916. On FindMyPast there are 101 results, suggesting that coverage is not identical. I tried to find some pattern, but couldn't. I haven't checked for every year, but for each of 1895 and 1904, has one more birth entry than FindMyPast's Index.

Moving to FindMyPast's Marriage Indexes, I started with a general no-surname search for marriages in 1845 +/- 2 years and was surprised to find 63 marriages appear, all with links to images. I was surprised because IrishGenealogy doesn't have pre-1870 register images.  I linked through to half a dozen of these and found that the year of marriage had been mistranscribed: Samuel Chick married Charlotte Hutcheson in Kilkeel on 22 May 1884, not 1844; James Fagan married Mary Barry in Monkstown on 6 Jan 1895, not 1845; James Curren married Mary Curren in Ballinrobe on 1 November 1893, not 1843... etc. I found each of these marriages correctly noted in the index.

As far as I can tell, FindMyPast's Marriages Index runs from about 1870 to 1940. The company's vague blog announcement says more entries will be added later in the year, so presumably these will include the 1941 marriages which are already available on IrishGenealogy. FindMyPast's Births Index seems to run from 1864 to 1915, with an additional helping of nearly 4,500 birth registrations for 1916.

While I can't say I was wildly impressed with my first dabble in FindMyPast's new Indexes, I accept that all indexes have errors and these can be amended by feedback from customers. However, I can't help questioning quality control procedures when an index of images that start from 1870 throws up entries for the 1860s and was not corrected before publication. What irritates me more is the lack of information about the FindMyPast Indexes. Is it too much to ask for researchers to be provided with basic information about the dates covered in a collection, or advised that the collection is incomplete? No one wants to waste their time searching a collection or index for records that it doesn't hold.

The two databases can be found here:

FindMyPast's Ireland Civil Birth Registers Index

FindMyPast's Ireland Civil Marriage Registers Index

UPDATE, 15 May 2018: Genealogist John Grenham has worked out what is missing, and it's not insignificant! See his blogpost – FindMyPast's unmarked elephant traps – for full details.

UPDATE, 13 July 2018
: The two databases have been removed from FindMyPast's website. No notification or explanation provided.