This site is dedicated to the memory of my parents and to our ancestors. If you are related to those listed, I hope this gives you a better understanding of their lives. Feel free to comment on anything posted, especially if you have additional or different information. The posts on this page chronicle my
research journey and provide resources and links. Genealogy is divided by parental lineage into Lowe and Bader. You can access these by
category from the menu and side links. Please be aware that this is an on-going project. Information will be updated as it becomes available.

Journey # 6: Sometimes You Need Original Documents

I’d had success the previous weeks finding some ancestors using just online databases, but I'd hit a wall on one generation because of the common names. As discussed in earlier posts, census data is available online for free, and the census documents themselves are available online through several paid services. Birth, marriage and death registry data is available online for free, but these records are not prepared from original documents. They are from registry data, which may only show a name, location and event date. Names of parents may not be listed in birth registers. Sometimes marriage registry data isn't even sure which of the names in the list is the bride and groom. If you only know the name of the bride, for example, you might guess from the gender of the other names which would be the groom. But if there are two men, it could be either. 

Original British certificates, however, contain full information about the event. A birth certificate typically shows names of parents including mother's maiden name along with the family's address. Baptism certificates show the church and the name of the clergyman who performed the baptism. Marriage certificates show the full names of the bride and groom along with their ages, addresses, occupations and fathers' names. But these documents have not been scanned into digital databases. I gather this is simply too big a project for anyone to tackle. You must order hard copies of these certificates from the source. 

Having hit a dead end on two families I decided this was my only choice. I researched and found a database called Yorkshire BMD that listed birth, marriage and death records. Since this was the county of my search, I found listings for marriages that matched my ancestors. But when I tried to order them from that site, I ended up in a loop without ever getting to an actual online order page. Eventually I discovered that only those in the same postal region as the Yorkshire office could order online (I guess they don't have the capacity for international shipping and postage). To order a certificate directly from Yorkshire would have meant printing forms, purchasing money orders, mailing them to the UK and waiting patiently for the return post. 

I then found a site that would acquire and send certificates for a fee of £24.95 per document. That translated to $47 Canadian at the time. Ouch. I eventually arrived at the website that passed me to the General Registry Office (GRO) of the United Kingdom (which actually said Her Majesty's Passport Office at the top of the page) where certificates could be ordered online for a mere £9.25. Obviously this office was set up for overseas mail and had included international postage costs in its rates. 

I ordered a marriage certificate for each set of great grandparents and sat back twiddling my thumbs for about a minute before I realized I couldn't just sit waiting for the 10 days to two weeks until they arrived. But there really was no point in continuing to research family members since it might be a complete waste of time if I were following the wrong people.


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