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  • janet reakes
    The following article is from Eastman s Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2002 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 24, 2002
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      The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy
      Newsletter and is copyright 2002 by Richard W. Eastman. It is
      re-published here with the permission of the author.
      - British Isles Vital Records Index on CD-ROM - Second Edition

      Late in 1998, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the
      Mormons) released a set of five CD-ROM data disks, called the
      "British Isles Vital Records Index." The set also included a sixth
      disk containing the necessary software. These disks contain nearly
      five million names from parish registers, civil registrations and
      other record collections in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
      The records on the index span more than three centuries, from 1538
      to 1888. The CD set sold for $15.00 (U.S. funds). In the three-
      plus years since the release, this set of valuable genealogy
      records has become a "best seller" for the Family History
      Department of the Mormon Church.

      In the original announcement written in 1998, the Mormon Church's
      Family History Department wrote, "This vital records index will be
      an ongoing project which will also be updated periodically." Now
      the Department has lived up to that promise: a few days ago they
      released a "second edition" of these records. The new 2nd edition
      of British Vital Records contains 13 million records, compared to
      the previous edition's five million. The new release also includes
      the latest version of Resource File Viewer software, which has
      numerous improvements over the 1998 edition. I had a chance to use
      the new Second Edition this week and am pleased with it.

      These British Isles Vital Records Index disks are created from
      millions of hours of volunteer labor. Since 1978, thousands of
      Latter-day Saints volunteers and others have spent millions of
      hours carefully reading and examining microfilmed records. The
      volunteers "extract" from these original records the most
      necessary and useful information, such as names, dates, places,
      and family relationships. The resulting data is then indexed, and
      the end result is a set of CD-ROM disks that improve ease of
      access and save time for family history devotees.

      Records that appear in this index generally contain names of the
      individuals, parents' names, the date and place where the birth,
      christening or marriage took place, the name of a person's spouse,
      and reference information which allows you to locate the original
      record on a microfilm.

      Names in this index have been standardized. This means that
      variant name spellings are listed under a common name. For
      example, Smyth, Smithe, Smeith, would all be indexed under the
      name Smith. This allows you to search a name without knowing the
      exact spelling. However, you are still able to search under the
      exact spelling of an individual's name if you wish.

      The records that comprise the index are extracted records, which
      means that someone copied selected pieces of information from the
      original record. However, not all of the genealogically important
      information was extracted. Therefore, you should use the
      reference information provided in this index to locate the
      original record on microfilm and evaluate the original record

      Index Limitations

      Be aware that this is not a complete index. Your ancestor may not
      appear in this CD-ROM set even though you know that he or she
      lived in a time and place covered by the index. The Vital Records
      Index will continue to be updated, adding millions of new names
      with each update.

      The British Isles, by definition, comprises the countries of
      England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the
      Channel Islands. This index includes records from all these
      places, except the Channel Islands. It includes names taken from
      records that date from as early as 1530 and as late as 1906. Time
      spans vary greatly from parish to parish. For one parish, the
      period 1538-1598 may be extracted, while another parish may only
      include the names from 1850 to 1875. It never contains all the
      records, simply those that have been found and indexed. Some areas
      have been extracted more heavily than others.

      Installation of the required Resource File Viewer version 4.0
      software was easy; I was looking at records within a few minutes
      after unwrapping the package. I generally look for my own surname
      first when using any new genealogy resource - which is exactly
      what I did three and a half years ago when I wrote a review of the
      First Edition of these records on CD-ROM. This year I entered my
      own last name, clicked on "Birth/Christening" records, and was
      soon looking at a long list of individuals. In fact, it was too
      long a list: 904 people. Three and a half years ago the same
      exercise produced a list of only 251 records. Obviously the number
      of records available in the Second Edition has increased
      dramatically: in my limited test it jumped from 251 to 904 records
      of the surname I am seeking!

      Looking at 904 records was a bit overwhelming; so I backed up and
      narrowed the search down to only display those records for
      Wiltshire, the county where my ancestors reportedly originated.
      Again, a lengthy list appeared: 230 individuals (versus 56
      individuals listed in the First Edition). I then backed up again
      and specified to search only those Eastman records for Downton,
      Wiltshire, a rather small village. To my surprise, 123 matches
      were displayed. I could have specified a first name and/or date
      range or even the names of the parents. However, I elected to
      simply scroll through the list of names. I quickly found the one I
      was looking for:

      EASTMAN, Roger Christening
      Gender: Male
      Christening Date: 4 Apr 1610
      Recorded in: Downton, Wiltshire, England
      Father: Nicholas EASTMAN
      Source: FHL Film 1279375
      Dates: 1601 - 1904

      This record is rather typical of those found in the British Isles
      Vital Records Index: the name of the individual, the type of event
      (this was for a christening), date, location, names of the parents
      (only the father is listed in this case) and a reference to where
      the original record may be found. In this case, Family History
      Library microfilm #1279375 has an image of the original record. To
      obtain all the details found on the original record, I can rent
      that microfilm for about three dollars at any local Family History
      Center. There are thousands of such centers around the world,
      including one that is about a 20-minute drive from where I live.
      Most urban areas in North America have one or more Family History
      Centers that are open to everyone, regardless of religious

      In short, these CD-ROM disks are exactly what the name claims: an
      index. Like an index in the back of a book, it allows you to
      locate information quickly and easily. However, also like the
      book, you will always want to turn to the information cited in
      order to read all the details and to ensure that this is really
      the information that you want. The British Isles Vital Records
      Index itself is not the source of the information and should not
      be listed as a source. Instead, it is a pointer to the true source
      as recorded on microfilm.

      While looking at the record I mentioned earlier, I clicked on the
      father's name: Nicholas Eastman. My computer then showed me a list
      of all the men of that name available on the CD-ROM disks. I was
      able to find many of Roger Eastman's siblings, as there were a
      number of christenings in the same village for babies with that
      surname, all showing the father's name as Roger Eastman. Again,
      all referred to the same reel of microfilm, so I assume I can rent
      that one reel and find records on the entire family.

      The above is only one small example of a search on the new British
      Isles Vital Records Index CD-ROM disks. There are 13 million more
      examples to be found, including marriage records as well as birth
      and christening records.

      There are no death records listed, however, as the Mormon religion
      does not consider death to be as significant as some others would
      believe. The LDS religion apparently teaches that death is not the
      end of life. Rather, it is a transition from one state to another,
      a transition from life on earth to life in heaven. Members of the
      LDS Church therefore do not place as much significance on death
      dates as others would and often do not record those dates in their
      databases. The Vital Records Indexes focus solely on births,
      christenings, and marriage dates.

      I found it impossible to simply copy-and-paste records using the
      normal Windows commands. However, I found that records from the
      Vital Records Indexes can be saved as a GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data
      COMmunication) file. Creating a GEDCOM file allows you to
      electronically copy records from the index to your own personal
      genealogy system, assuming that your program can read GEDCOM files
      (All the more popular modern genealogy programs have this

      To create a GEDCOM file, all I had to do was display a record and
      then SAVE it, using commands on the toolbar. I could save up to
      100 records at any time. When ready, I simply selected CREATE
      GEDCOM FILE from the toolbar again and followed the menus. The end
      result was a new file that I can import into most any modern
      genealogy program. That can save a lot of keystrokes!

      The British Isles Vital Records Index software operates on Windows
      95, 98, ME, XP, NT, or 2000. It will not operate on Windows 3.1.
      It probably will operate on Linux or on a Macintosh with a Windows
      emulator although that is not guaranteed and certainly is not
      supported by the CD-ROM's producers. You will also need a modest
      amount of disk space and at least 8 megabytes of memory with 16
      megabytes strongly recommended (probably more on Windows XP, NT,
      or 2000). You will also need a VGA monitor with a video card
      capable of producing 256 colors or more.

      The British Isles Vital Records Index on CD-ROM - Second Edition
      is so new that it is not yet for sale on the FamilySearch Web
      site. However, I suspect it will appear there soon. The LDS Church
      has distribution centers in Utah, England, and many other
      locations around the world. Once the set becomes available, you
      can order it online and have it shipped from the distribution
      center nearest you. To order your own copy, keep an eye open at:

      FOR AUSTRALIANS please note the order number is 50126 and the cost is
      likely to be$36.40 which may go down.
      The 1300 number is 1300304045 to ring and order. No supplies are in
      Australia yet.
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