back to article BT puts old phone books online

BT is putting its entire archive of old phone books online for genealogists, or anyone else, to browse, and a commercial genealogy company is opening up access to all UK burial records since 1538. The phone books date back to 1880 and contain 280 million names. They can be used to track down relatives, but you can also use the …

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JB

Drawback

I love these pre-BT phone books, especially all the pages at the front with old-fashioned sounding info about using the phoen and all those recorded services (remember Dial-a-Disc?), so i was looking forward to checking out these old phone books online.

I'm rather disappointed at the service, though I do realise there may be restrictions placed on the genealogy company who provide the info. You can't look for info about an address only, you have to provide a surname; and if you want to see a scan of the pages, you have to pay.

Oh well, I'll just have to think wistfully of the day, many years ago, when I went into Telephone House in my town and stood looking at the glass case with all the UK's phone books lined up inside! Well, i was only 5 at the time! :)

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Flame

All UK burial records?

Followed the link to FindMyPast but, unless I'm missing the big page full of information (which is entirely likely), they appear to be missing a couple of small areas of the UK - like Scotland and Northern Ireland??

The UK is about 12.5Wales in area, not just 7.5Wales you know...

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Public records?

That site wants me to pay for viewing those public records! I find that, to put it mildly, rather strange.

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Anonymous Coward

It should be free...

.. of course, because it doesn't cost them anything at all to host all that data or actually get it online.</sarcasm>

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Re: Public Records

As an employee of a pubilc records searching company yes you do have to pay for the information. Anyone can go to the Register and view public records all they want but if they want online access, searching etc then someone has to do that. We pay the registers for access and we charge the customer.

Public Records are free to access if you make an effort, or you can pay other people to make that effort for you.

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Not all burial records

Currently the findmypast.com offering includes millions of burials from those collected by the Federation of Family History Societies (who I'm associated with) as part of the National Burial Index project which is work in progress. The greatest concentration of these is in the period 1812-1837. Not all family history societies contribute to the project, some parish registers haven't survived, some are unreadable so this volunteer effort can never be complete.

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Identity Theft

Anyone who's seen Highlander will know how useful the burial records could be to an immortal looking for a new identity...

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Ancestry.Con

Ancestry.com are famed for their ability to get folks to pay to access public records. Typically, the same records can be accessed via government sites for free, but alas they suffer the snag of no PR machine, so only the professionals know where to look.

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@ Whittler

"Typically, the same records can be accessed via government sites for free ..."

Ancestry.co.uk provide 19th century census records and GRO birth/death/marriage indexes. What Government sites provide those for free?

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Rob
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It's bollocks!

My surname is rather uncommon. I know, for a fact, that my dad was in the phone book at three houses we lived in, in the north of England, between 1975 and 1984.

When I put those parameters in, it finds no trace, but offers me entries from London in 1966!

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Anonymous Coward

Title

As an existing subscriber to Ancestry I have to say that they got my regular subscription because they were not asking for a fee for every look at something (which I decided would add up to a grand sum a little too quickly for my liking). And I managed to find an offer for the first month free too. The downside is that there is all too often a missing record, or the wrong page :-( (Still, there's always freebmd,org.uk)

Will be checking the burial records at FindMyPast soon then. Sounds like it'll be very interesting so long as the search engine is a good one. But as for the telephone directories ? Well my family were never rich enough to own luxuries like phones until just about everyone else already had one, so I can't see it helping me much with any genealogy delving.

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Music on-line

Ahhhh....'Dial-a-Disc', that takes me back. 'The wippins' I got from using that off me ol neighbour back in the days of party lines.

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Anonymous Coward

Title

Hmm tried a few test searches on the burials, for ancestors whom I knew were buried in a particular cemetery/plot. I get the impression there is still a lot more data to add :-)

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JB
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I'm with Rob

My family have lived in the same property since the early 1970s and there has been a phone there since 1971, but nothing comes up, and like Rob's experience, we get London, Birmingham, Glasgow...anywhere except the place I entered in the city and county fields. Oh well.

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Tim

Re: Public Records

"Public Records are free to access if you make an effort, or you can pay other people to make that effort for you"

They're not really that free when you have to pay to get to a PRO. Not too sure if you have to pay to get in these days.

Think you have to pay for online records even from the official PRO sources, and soon you won't be able to physically walk into a building to look anything up, all has to be done online.

See http://www.guardian.co.uk/britain/article/0,,2201087,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=11

quote: "The Family Records Centre opened only 10 years ago, shared between the ledgers of the General Records Office on the ground floor - now closed - and a first-floor reading room operated by the National Archives at Kew. Four complete sets of the microfiche index are being made available in the National Archives space until March, when the whole building will close to the public and researchers will have to work online."

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What a service!

So, given that the 1984 phone book is online, I can now do the same lookup that - apparently - BT's call centers use when I call directory enquiries.

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@Shusui

Well, here in Scotland, that would be scotlandspeople.gov.uk, a collection of GROS, NAS and Lord Lyon's stuff.

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@ Whittler

Ah ... yes that's always the trap. You were referring to Scotland, I was thinking of England and Wales. The Eng/Wales birth/marriage/death indexes (originals) have now been removed from public access. There is a Govt project to digitise them, outsourced to India(?) and they were meant to be online before access was denied, but guess what - they're behind schedule and it will not happen now until next year ... or ... later!

I think Ancestry was somewhat precipitous in announcing that all the telephone books are available. They've been putting them up for months, chronologically, and it seems they've only got to the London area for 1984 - the rest of the country is covered up until the 1940s or so.

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