Genealogy news roundup: GRO PDF pilot extended indefinitely

By Rosemary Collins, 5 July 2018 - 1:45pm

Plus: BFI celebrates NHS 70th anniversary by livestreaming NHS on Film collection; Scottish school exams website launches; Findmypast adds Kent midwife’s register

Get birth, marriage and death certificates from the General Register Office
The pilot allows family historians to order PDF copies of birth and death certificates

The General Register Office (GRO) has confirmed that its pilot scheme to make PDF copies of birth and death certificates available to family historians will be extended indefinitely.

The pilot allows researchers to order the PDFs online for £6, as opposed to £9.25 each for a print copy, and with a delivery time of five working days.

It was first introduced in October 2017 and was extended to July after the scheme proved a success, leading to over 79,600 PDF orders in its first three months.

In a statement on its website, the GRO said the pilot "has now been extended further to continue to assess longer term demand" with "no planned end date".

The pilot covers birth certificates from 1837 (when state registration was introduced) to 1917 and death certificates from 1837 to 1957, but does not include marriage records.


BFI celebrates NHS 70th anniversary by livestreaming NHS on Film collection

The British Film Institute (BFI) is livestreaming a collection of clips from the NHS on Film collection on Twitter and Facebook today to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the health service.

The one-hour livestream took place at 12pm on the BFI's Twitter account and will also be showing on its Facebook page at 7pm.

The clips are taken from NHS on Film, a collection of 70 rare public health films, documentaries and training films, taken from the BFI National Archive and The National Archives, that was released for free on the BFI Player to mark the anniversary.

They date from 1946 to the present day and feature celebrities including Glenda Jackson, Ernie Wise and John Hurt.


National Library of Scotland publishes historic exam papers online

The National Library of Scotland (NLS) is marking the school exam season by launching a new free website exploring the history of exams in Scotland.

The website allows researchers to search and view the NLS' collection of exam papers from 1888 to 1963, and try their hand at answering the questions.

It also includes background information on the history of exams in Scotland and guides to the books, publications, archive film, school magazines and inspection reports available in the NLS' collections.

In addition, the NLS commissioned 'Re-sits', a series of creative responses to old exam papers by artists, musicians, dancers and writers, which are available on the website.


Findmypast adds Kent midwife's register

Findmypast has added a new transcribed register of birth records compiled by William Waylett, a male midwife who practiced in Kent between 1757 and 1815.

Waylett kept notes on the babies he delivered while working in Lydd and the surrounding parishes on Romney Marsh, containing details such as their surname, gender, date and place of birth, parents' names and details of the birth and payment.

In total, the register contains over 2,400 birth records.

The register was transcribed by the Folkestone & District Family History Society and is now held in the Wellcome Library.


Staffordshire History Centre receives planning permission

A new home for Staffordshire's archives has moved a step closer after receiving planning permission from Staffordshire County Council.

The Staffordshire History Centre will be located in Stafford and incorporate the existing Lichfield Record Office and William Salt Library.

The project will cost £5.7 million in total and has already received a development grant of £333,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Gill Heath, cabinet member for communities at Staffordshire County Council, said that the new centre would host a programme of activities and exhibitions which would "allow us to take more of our amazing collections out to local communities and schools and get many more people excited about our history".


National Library of Wales adds 4,800 portraits to Wikimedia Commons

A collection of 4,800 public domain portraits from the National Library of Wales (NLW) are now available to search by the names of subjects and artists on Wikimedia Commons.

Along with the portrait prints, photographs and paintings, the Library's National Wikimedian has also shared rich metadata for every image as linked open data on Wikidata.

Where possible, the linked data includes links to the individual's profile on Wikipedia or the Dictionary of Welsh Biography.

The portraits include prominent individuals such as military and political leaders, as well as ordinary people.

The NLW used a Sparql query service to visualise the data and found that the most common profession depicted was clerics.


London Metropolitan Archives changes opening hours

The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) has announced that it is cutting its open evenings from three a week to one.

The LMA is currently open from 9.30am to 7.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

From 3 September, it will close at 4.45pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, it will extend the last time original documents can be ordered from the strong rooms on Wednesday evenings from 5.40pm to 6.40pm.

The LMA said it had taken the decision after analysis of footfall revealed that the average number of readers in the building fell in the evenings, requiring "a significant and not very efficient provision of resources" to accommodate them.


MyHeritage introduces DNA match filtering system

MyHeritage has announced the release of a new filtering system on its DNA Matches website to make it easier for users to find potential relatives.

The new system allows users to filter matches by relationship, country and ethnicity and additional criteria such as people with whom they share a family tree, ancestral surnames or MyHeritage Smart Matches.

MyHeritage said it introduced the system because its DNA database has grown so large that many users will have thousands of matches, and need to be able to sort through them.

It is available for free for anyone who has taken a MyHeritage DNA test or uploaded DNA test results from another service.


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