DEVON-L ArchivesArchiver > DEVON > 2004-03 > 1078833834
From: Brian Randell <>
Subject: [DEV] [ADMIN] Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - the answers according to GENUKI
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 12:03:54 +0000
It's a while since this more general FAQ
(referred to in the GENUKI/Devon FAQ) has been
posted. Might I recommend everyone to save, and
perhaps print off, a copy for future reference -
or at least to get into the habit of referring to
it via the link on the GENUKI Home page.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- the answers according to GENUKI
*1. How do Mailing Lists, Newsgroups and the Web differ?
*2. What is GENUKI?
*3. I'm new to genealogy. How do I begin?
*4. Where is the place called <?????>
*5. Is there a Family History Society for <?????> county?
*6. Is there a Surnames List for <?????>?
*7. Is there a Mailing List for <?????>?
*8. Could someone look up the birth/marriage/death of <?????>? for me?
*9. How do I find the address of the Local Register Office for <?????>?
*10. How can I obtain a copy of a birth/marriage/death certificate?
*11. Where are the Parish Registers for <?????>?
*12. Can you recommend a good genealogy book catalogue?
*13. What Census transcriptions are available from the LDS on CD-ROM?
*14. How can I prepare for a visit to the Public Record Office?
*15. I don't have means of accessing the Web - how can I use GENUKI?
*16. I can't find <?????> in GENUKI - can you help?
Newcomers to the soc.genealogy.britain/GENBRIT-L
newsgroups/mailing lists, and to the various
regional mailing lists (and people who've mislaid
their bookmarks!) frequently post queries that
could be easily answered by reference to the
World Wide Web-based UK & Ireland Genealogical
Information Service (GENUKI).
The purpose of this regularly-posted "FAQ file"
is to give addresses (URLs) that can be used to
go immediately to the GENUKI information
resources that provide detailed answers to the
above FAQs. It also provides answers to some
questions that are often asked about GENUKI
(In case you don't want to bookmark the URLs
given here separately, and in order to give some
examples of how to use GENUKI, this file also
explains how to reach these pages by starting
from the GENUKI home page, which is at:
http://www.genuki.org.uk/. Incidentally, this
present FAQ file is itself held in GENUKI,
reachable directly from the home page.)
1. How do Mailing Lists, Newsgroups and the Web differ?
What were termed above the
lists" will be seen by some users (who may well
not know what a newsgroup is) as mailing lists,
and seen as newsgroups by other users (who may
well assume that everyone sees them that way) -
yet in fact both types of user will see the same
set of messages. (Note: there are a number of
other genealogy mailing lists related to regions
within the UK & Ireland - see Question 7 below -
that are not so linked to corresponding
For new Internet users, it is therefore perhaps
appropriate to start with a brief explanation of
the differences between a mailing list and a
newsgroup, and how these relate to the World Wide
Web. (You may be reading this particular page via
any of these three schemes!)
These three schemes of distributing information
over the Internet were developed separately, and
their use originally always involved different
software packages, namely an "email system", a
"news reader", and the more recent concept of a
"web browser". Now, however, one often finds such
software packages linked together, or provided as
components of an overall system. What has not
changed is that:
*Mailing lists are simply a means of
automatically sending electronic mail to a known
list of recipients - each of whom has indicated
interest beforehand in receiving such mail by
"subscribing" to the list. Thereafter the
subscriber receives copies of all, or a digest of
all, messages that are sent to the list, and is
responsible for discarding the messages when they
are no longer needed. Anyone can set up a mailing
list. Mailing lists (and newsgroups) may be under
some form of editorial control, but this can be
an extremely onerous task so both typically
function automatically, and so will accept and
pass on all messages sent to them.
*News messages are distributed
automatically to computers that are acting as
"news servers". These computers will retain
copies of the messages for some set period,
possibly only just a few days, before discarding
them. A news server is typically operated by the
user's Internet Service Provider. The stored
messages are organised into thousands of
different newsgroups, ready for users to read
when they so wish. Once a given message has been
read by a user, it will disappear from the list
of messages remaining to be read by that user, so
that users have to arrange to store their own
copies of messages that they might want to refer
to again. Because all news messages in the major
newsgroups are automatically sent to all news
servers, world-wide, there is a complex, but
democratic, set of procedures governing the
creation of new newsgroups.
*Pages on the World Wide Web (or "web" for
short) are, generally speaking, not automatically
distributed like news or mail messages, but
rather contain multi-media information that is
held available on a computer that is functioning
as a "web server". Such a web server is typically
permanently connected to the Internet. A "web
browser" automatically fetches copies of such
pages on demand, so that they can be viewed, as
the user follows (i.e. "clicks" on) links that
are embedded in Web pages. These links thus tie
web pages together into a huge "multi-media
document", disguising the fact that different
parts of this "document" are in fact held on
different computers, located all around the
world. (The answer to Q15 below may be of
interest to you if you do not have means of
"browsing" the Web.)
More help and information about how to use the
genealogy newsgroups and mailing lists can be
found in special FAQ files - copies of which can
be found via http://www.woodgate.org/FAQs/.
For a very extensive listing of genealogy
newsgroups and mailing lists see
2. What is GENUKI?
The aim of GENUKI is to serve as a comprehensive
"virtual reference library" of genealogical
information that is of particular relevance to
the UK & Ireland. It is organised so as to make
it easy to find what information on what topics
is available online related to given geographical
localities (even down to parish level). It is a
noncommercial service, provided by an
ever-growing group of volunteers in cooperation
with the Federation of Family History Societies
and a number of its member societies. It is not
just a "list of links" to information elsewhere
but rather it also contains a large and
ever-growing set of specially-produced
information pages (over 25,000, containing about
320 Mbytes of text, as of September 2000).
More specifically, the GENUKI organization is an
unincorporated charitable association. The
committee comprises the following contributors:
Malcolm Austen, Peter Christian, David Hawgood,
Colin Hinson, Brian Pears, Brian Randell, Phil
Stringer and Richard White
Post, phone and fax contact:
GENUKI, c/o David Hawgood, 26 Cloister Road, Acton, London W3 0DE,
Telephone: 020 8993 2897 (day or evening), Fax: 020 8248 2292.
In the main, the information that is provided in
GENUKI relates to primary historical material,
(e.g. parish register and census transcripts,
details of archives and their holdings, etc.),
rather than material resulting from genealogists'
ongoing research, such as GEDCOM files - for
which there exist many other online repositories.
If you are reading this as a Web page, presumably
reached via the GENUKI home page, at:
http://www.genuki.org.uk/, then you can obtain an
alternative, much fuller answer to this question
by returning to this home page and following the
link to "Guidance for First-Time Users of These
If you are reading this as a mailing list or
newsgroup message, and are not familiar with
using the Web, then what you need to do -
possibly with help from your Internet Service
Provider - is obtain a browser program, such as
Netscape or Internet Explorer, if you don't
already have one, and use this to "open" the Web
page at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/, i.e the home
page, or front door, to GENUKI, and proceed from
Incidentally, more volunteers willing to join in
the GENUKI effort are always welcome - see
GENUKI's "Help Us" page. This is to be found from
the Home Page, or directly at:
3. I'm new to genealogy. How do I begin?
Reading an introductory book, almost any that you
could find in your local library, would be a good
idea. However, you can find a number of online
tutorial articles and introductory texts in
GENUKI. There is, for example, "Getting Started
in Genealogy" at: http://www.genuki.org.uk/gs/,
and an extensive tutorial text, the "A-Z of
British Genealogical Research", at:
(You can find these and others by following the
link "Getting started in genealogy" which you
will find on GENUKI's home page.)
4. Where is the place called <?????>?
There is an excellent On-Line Historical
it is currently based just on the 1911 census for
England and Wales, but is to be extended.
GENUKI provides a searchable database containing
details of places in England, Wales and the IOM,
in the 1891 census. This is to be found at:
(You can also find a link to these, from under
"Gazetteers", on both the England and Wales pages
The Parish Locator, at
provides means of identifying the county, and the
OS Grid reference, of parishes and registration
districts across the whole of the UK.
GENUKI also provides what is in effect a 19th
century gazetteer of England and Wales. This is
the alphabetical Index to Places in England and
Wales covered by the Local Registration Offices.
This index is at:
(You can find this from the link "alphabetical
index" under "Civil Registration" on the England
The Ordnance Survey provides a modern gazetteer,
covering all the place names on their 1:50,000
Landranger Maps of England, Scotland and Wales at
(This has over a quarter of a million placenames,
for each of which it gives the modern county,
National Grid reference, latitude, and
longitude.) Alternatively, you can use the search
facilities of one of the commercially-provided
online modern road atlases (covering England,
Scotland, and Wales) that are linked to from
under "Maps" on GENUKI's UK & Ireland page.
For locating places in Ireland, try the Place
Name Search facility provided by the Irish Times,
or the Online Gazetteer of Irish Parishes
provided by the National Archives of Ireland.
Links to these sites are to be found under
"Gazetteers" on the GENUKI Ireland page.
Very detailed Gazetteers are also available in
GENUKI for some counties - see the individual
5. Is there a Family History Society for <?????> county?
The answer is almost certainly "Yes". You should
be able to find details about the Society
(including a link to its Web pages, if there are
any) under the heading "Societies" on the
relevant county page, assuming you know which
county to look in. However,
http://www.genuki.org.uk/Societies/. provides a
listing of family history societies organised by
country and county for use if you don't.
(Alternatively this listing can be reached by
using the link "details of all these societies",
under "Societies" in the UK & Ireland page.)
6. Is there a Surnames List for <?????>?
There is a page listing all the UK and Ireland
counties which you can use to find out whether
there is a Surnames List (i.e list of who is
researching what names, where) for a given
county. This page is at:
(This can be found via a link "Surname Lists
available" under "Genealogy" in the UK & Ireland
7. Is there a Mailing List for <?????>?
There is a page listing all the counties which
you can use to find out the relevant mailing
list(s) for any given county. This page is at:
(Alternatively this can be reached from the link
"e-mail lists" under "Genealogy" in the UK &
8. Could someone look up the birth/marriage/death of <?????>? for me?
How to answer such a question depends greatly on
where and when the event occurred. For example,
if it was in England or Wales before 1837, then
this was before the beginning of Civil
Registration, and answering the question can be
quite difficult even if the parish in which the
event occurred is known. However for events that
occurred in England or Wales after civil
registration was introduced, such lookups, while
they may be time-consuming, are well within the
ability of any researcher, since national (G.R.O
- General Register Office, formerly "St
Catherines House") indexes are available, and
have been microfilmed by the LDS. These can be
used to obtain certificates - see below.
Extensive information about civil registration,
and - for earlier events - about church records
can be found throughout GENUKI.
9. How do I find the address of the Local Register Office for <?????>?
You can use the Index to Places in England and
Wales (at: http://www.fhsc.org.uk/genuki/places/)
to determine the appropriate register office, and
then the list of Register Offices at:
find its address. (You can also find these links
starting "Civil Registration" in the GENUKI
England page, and many GENUKI county pages list
all the local register offices in the county -
under "Civil Registration".) Note, however, that
Scottish civil registration records are more
conveniently and cheaply obtained from the
Scottish General Register Office than from Local
Register Offices - see under "Civil Registration"
on the GENUKI/Scotland page.
10. How can I obtain a copy of a birth/marriage/death certificate?
For England and Wales, this is explained in page
(You can reach this page from under "Civil Registration" in the England page.)
Scottish certificates are obtained from the
General Register Office for Scotland - see
(Alternatively look under "Civil Registration" in the GENUKI Scotland page.)
11. Where are the Parish Registers for <?????>
In the case of England and Wales, nearly all
surviving Parish Registers are now deposited in
the appropriate County Record Office (CRO). You
should be able to find details of the CRO under
"Archives and Libraries" in the relevant county
page. Registers of the Church of Scotland prior
to 1855 may be consulted at the General Register
Office in Edinburgh or in LDS family history
centres. For guidance on later Church of Scotland
registers, as well as registers of other churches
in Scotland, see under "Church Records" on the
GENUKI/Scotland page. In addition a growing
number of counties have pages in GENUKI for all
the parishes in the county, each of which gives
details about what registers have survived for
that parish and where they are to be found.
12. Can you recommend a good genealogy book catalogue?
The Federation of Family History Societies has an
on-line bookshop, or rather set of separate
bookstands, via which its own list of
approximately 400 publications, plus those of
over a hundred other organisations (mainly family
history societies), are available. This is at
The Society of Genealogists is another major
publisher, with a list of nearly 400 books -
these are available at
(An easy way to find a link to the Society of
Genealogists' web pages, and to those of the
Federation of Family History Societies, and hence
to their book catalogues, is to look under
"Societies" in the UK & Ireland page.)
13. What Census transcriptions are available from the LDS on CD-ROM?
At the moment, the only full census transcription
for the United Kingdom (excl. Ireland), available
for purchase on CD-ROM, is the 1881 Census from
the Latter Day Saints. (They also provide a free
online search facility for this at
http://www.familysearch.com/) The LDS also make
available a CD-ROM containing the complete census
for 1851 for the counties of Devon, Norfolk and
The 1881 Census C.D. set is £29.95
The 1851 Three Counties disk is £5.95
Credit card or cheque payable to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Within the UK, these CD-ROMs are available from:
LDS Distribution Centre
399 Garretts Green Lane
Tel: 08700 10 20 51
Fax: 08700 10 20 52
Outside of the U.K. check http://www.familysearch.org/Search/searchfhc2.asp
or visit your local LDS family history centre.
Note: the 1901 census is available online at the
index is free, everything else is pay per view.)
14. How can I prepare for a visit to the Public Record Office?
You should browse the Public Record Office's own
web pages, which are at: http://www.pro.gov.uk/,
where you will find a large collection of very
helpful PRO information leaflets. (There is a
GENUKI-style index at
that gives an overview of the very extensive PRO
(Links to both these sets of pages can be found
under "Archives and Libraries" in GENUKI's UK and
15. I don't have means of accessing the Web - how can I use GENUKI?
There are some (volunteer-run) services that
enable people who do not have means of accessing
the web nevertheless to obtain the text of web
pages by email. There is a short GENUKI web page
about how to do this at URL:
You can arrange to have a copy of the above page
emailed to you, but please do not do so if you
can access it via the web, so leaving the Web
page email facilities free to serve those who
really need them. In order to have a copy of the
text of this page emailed to you, send a one line
message of the form:
to email address:
or the (slightly different) one line message:
to email address:
Note: the first of these services is in Canada
and the second is in Japan. Choose whichever
seems closer to you but be prepared to wait at
least several hours for a reply.
16. I can't find <?????> in GENUKI - can you help?
This is a fine question to send to a relevant
newsgroup or mailing list. However, as is
explained on the GENUKI home page, please do NOT
send general genealogical queries to the email
address given for contacting the GENUKI
maintainers as it is very unlikely that we have
the expertise (or time) to answer them. It may
seem impolite but do not expect any reply to such
Contributors to this file include Bob Muchamore
and Barry Ruck. Suggestions for improving it
would be welcome, and should be sent to:
[Last updated 11 Jan 2004]
School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 7RU, UK
EMAIL = PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232 URL = http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/~brian.randell/