• Vote (rumour correction)

    There is a rumour that Free UK Genealogy is taking a vote from volunteers and users of our websites (FreeBMD, FreeCEN and FreeREG) as to whether the sites should remain free, or should be behind a paywall.  This is simply not true.  

    There is no vote: the sites will remain free.

    Free UK Genealogy is a charity set up to achieve, and committed to 

    • the free provision of high quality transcriptions and (where possible) images of records of genealogical significance, 
    • the development of tools to support community transcription, and 
    • other activities that promote making family and wider history records available under open data formats.  

    We generate sufficient funds for our day-to-day expenses from banner advertising and the kind donations - often in small amounts - from users of our websites.  Of course, we would always like more money - to improve our existing projects and develop new ones, to support community transcription and to more widely make historical records available to all, for free. Please get in touch if you have ideas for projects or partnerships that you would like us to consider.

    There are a number of ways you can support us, and help the future development of Free UK Genealogy. 

    • You can donate (if you don't already do so).
    • You can spread the news about our projects, bringing them to the attention of those who would love to know we may have the information they are looking for.
    • If you buy online (e.g. groceries, books, electronics) please consider signing up for our Easy Fundraising page.  You will only pay what you normally do on your online shopping, but we will be given a small amount, at no extra cost to you.  Easy Fundraising will prompt you, when you visit a website which is part of the scheme (or when you do a search, that a result is part of the scheme).
    • You can volunteer in one of a number of roles - from transcribing to programming in Ruby, to working on social media campaigns.  This includes the opportunity to be a Trustee, or provide your professional knowledge through our new advisory board.
  • Keeping Our History Free

    As a trustee of Free UK Genealogy, I can say with absolute certainty that the central plank of Dr Seakin’s message on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (that we intend to make any of the sites pay per view) is completely untrue, and the text that is set out there has NOT come from the trustees. (Please note: The relevant page on Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter is no longer available)

    What we ARE proposing is to make our data available as “open data”, which will mean that anybody can re-use that data. That could include people who re-use it commercially, but we will still have it online, free of charge.

    Should you be worried about this? Well, rest assured that I and the other trustees have worried about it for several years. Of course, we are concerned that we should do the right thing, and that we shouldn’t leave people thinking we are doing the wrong thing.

    So, why open data?

    Well, whilst we have achieved much, in bringing all that data to people free of charge, we have come to realise that something was happening that we never really considered back in 1999 (yes, that is how long FreeBMD has been with us). Basically, the data set that we have transcribed is so huge that it seems very unlikely that anybody else would do it again, but WE own that data, and that means that it is only as useful as WE let it be.
    If somebody else has a good idea about using that data to make it even more useful to genealogists, then they can’t do it, and unless we negotiate an agreement with them (or we develop the idea ourselves) that good idea will never happen.

    Now that isn’t what we are about!

    So, we want to say to all those people out there who think they can do something clever with that data “Go, do something clever”.
    Some of them will do something clever and make some money from it. Others will do clever things for free, and still others will see people making money from the data and decide to do something similar for free.
    Basically, unless what somebody wants to do with the data is HUGELY clever, somebody else will do the same thing for free, so there will be little incentive for the pay sites to do simple stuff here, because if they do, somebody else will pull the rug from under them.

    So, there you have it.

    People will be able to use our data. They can even charge people for their end product, but we are sure that there will be plenty of new FREE content created, and that anybody who created a paid-for version of FreeBMD, FreeCEN or FreeREG would make no money!

    Above all, the existing FREE sites (or rather new, revamped, FREE sites in some cases) will still be there.

    Dave Mayall

    Trustee, Free UK Genealogy

  • Conference Report (updated)

    Thank you to all those who came to the Open Data Conference on Saturday 30th January and especially to John Sheridan (Digital Director, the National Archives), Simon Tanner (Pro Vice Dean Research Impact & Innovation, King's College London) and our own Trustee Richard Light, for giving such enjoyable and illuminating talks.

    Welcome slides with notes and the new Free UK Genealogy Open Data video can be seen here. A (poor quality) video of this section can be viewed here.

    John Sheridan's talk can be seen here (we apologize for the poor quality of the recording). Simon's slides can be seen here and Richard slides can be viewed here.

    The formal presentations were followed by a presentation of a new Free UK Genealogy video explaining why we believe Open Data is so crucial to the future of the organisation and projects, and hence the need for a new transcribers agreement.

    Whilst the 'in person' attendees were able to join in the lively debate, online attendees became increasingly frustrated with streaming issues that were caused by the WiFi provision at the Linnean Society, not within our control unfortunately.

    We understand how disappointing this must have been and are now working hard on editing the conference video, which will be published with a transcript as soon as we can.

    Thank you for your patience if you tried to join us via one of these methods, and as one of the Trustees commented we need to ensure that technical issues do not undermine the messages of the day. It is important to ensure that all transcribers get an opportunity to hear the case for Open Data and get easy access to the proposed transcriber agreement and consultation process.

    • The proposed Transcriber Agreement Consultation can be found here.
    • Please use the consultation process to let us know your views on the proposed transcriber agreement and
    • please check FAQs if you have any questions. We will be adding the questions raised at the conference to this page shortly. If you still have questions please email us at info@freeukgen.org.uk

    Press coverage:
    Digital adventurers - Family Tree Editor Helen Tovey gets to grips with 'Open Data' and what it means for family history http://family-tree.co.uk/2016/02/digital-adventurers/

  • A Change in type of Charity for Free UK Genealogy

    Free UK Genealogy is becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation

    We will shortly be opening a new organisation: Free UK Genealogy CIO.

    CIO is the abbreviation for Charitable Incorporated Organisation (its a standard financial abbreviation, as Ltd. and PLC are). The CIO will have the same objectives and Trustees as the existing Free UK Genealogy. Like the existing organisation, the new organisation will be a registered charity.

    Once the new CIO is set up, new contracts will be made with it, rather than with the existing charity. This will include the Transcribers Agreement. The existing contracts will be moved to it when time allows, the assets transferred and the old charity will be wound up after that. Unfortunately it is not legally possible to simply change the existing charity and its contracts to become a CIO.

    We are doing this for two reasons: governing an unincorporated charity presents a risk to Trustees because they, personally, are financially liable rather than the charity. It is normal for a charity to change from being unincorporated to incorporated when it starts to employ staff.

    The unincorporated status of the current charity also presents a difficult in forming a trading company because only an individual or an incorporated body can hold shares. All the shares in the trading company will be held by the CIO - and all profits will be given to the CIO. We need a separate trading company because while a charity allowed to trade, this is restricted to a small proportion of its income, and we earn most of our income from banner advertising.

    You can read more about the kinds of charities on the Charity Commission's pages.