Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Writing to your MP


I would like to encourage all OPCs who are UK residents, not just those living in Cornwall, to write to their MPs.   You can find their email addresses on Theyworkforyou.  Obviously, you will have to edit my email, not just forward it.  Nor does it matter if an MP hears from several constituents.

Dear Ms Newton

I am a constituent of yours, living in Mitchell, and I would like to enlist your help.

My hobby is family history, in particular, Cornish family history.  I am a founder member of the Cornish Online Parish Clerk project (  This is basically an "adopt-a-parish" scheme with over a hundred volunteers world wide.  OPCs are committed to helping Cornish FH researchers free of charge.  The project has an online, searchable, free-to-view database ( with over 2.3 million records online.  Our main target is the parish registers, but we always looking for other sources of useful data.  

For the last six months I have been exchanging emails with the Registration Office in Truro, trying to persuade them to let me photograph and transcribe the indices of the 19th century registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths.  Not the registers, the indexes.  Yesterday, they said no, quoting an email they had had from the Policy Dept of the General Registration Office.  This said:

“This query is linked to a wider issue relating to access to records by family history societies, Ancestry, Find my past etc.   We are still seeking a resolution to this query and while I am unable to provide a definitive answer at present, I will advise you as soon as I am aware of the outcome.

In the interim, you may wish to advise the parish clerks that the public may only have access to the indices in the manner provided for by statue, i.e. in accordance with s.64 of the Marriage Act 1949, where you will note that there is no provision to transcribe or photograph the indexes, see link below.

It is interesting that they mention commercial operators such as Ancestry.  They, of course, would charge for access to the data, we don't.  Also, they say that the relevant act has no provision to allow the photographing or transcription of the indices.  But does it say that they can't be?  

As they have a policy dept, I would like to know what the policy actually is and how they intend to alter it.

I would like to re-iterate that it is the indices I want to transcribe, not the registers.

Hoping you can help.



Some background.  There are about 30 such projects in operation.  According to the administrator of UKBMD, he has been at usergroup meetings with the GRO and no objection to such projects was raised by them.

The Truro RO allowed CFHS to copy and transcribe the indices some years ago, but the results were not used for reasons not explained to me.  Personally, I think it was because rather belatedly they realised that CFHS charged for access.  I also think that within County Hall there is an IT department that would like a council web site to host the data, but they have neither the expertise or money to do it. We on the other hand have both the expertise and the web site!

Finally, despite not admitting any knowledge of UKBMD, in 2009 the Truro RO asked UKBMD for advice on setting up such a project.

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