findmypast

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findmypast
Type Limited Company
Industry genealogy, online publishing
Founded 2003
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people Annelies van den Belt (CEO)
Owner(s) DC Thomson Family History
Employees 100
Website http://www.findmypast.co.uk

"Findmypast" is a privately held UK-based online genealogy service owned by British company DC Thomson Family History.[1][2][3] It was the first company in the world to make the complete birth, marriage, and death indexes for England and Wales available online and for this was awarded the Queen's Award for Innovation in 2007.[4] In October 2011, findmypast used the new UK product placement legislation opportunities by sponsoring a genealogy TV series. The UKTV series was named Find My Past and uses findmypast's genealogical resources to discover people's roots.[1]

History[edit]

Title Research Group[edit]

Findmypast was originally formed in 1965 as a small group of professional and probate genealogists called "Title Research".[5] In 2001 they started an online project, called 1837online, which aimed to publish copies of the birth, marriage and death register pages of the General Register Office (GRO). Another online project, FreeBMD, had already been working on this since 1999, gradually transcribing the indexes through the efforts of volunteers and publishing searchable indexes freely on the internet.[6]

1837online[edit]

In April 2003 www.1837online.com went live online.[6] This was a pay-per-view service allowing access to images of the pages of the original GRO registers. Initially there was no index of individual entries for the period before 1984, but subsequent years had already been electronically recorded by the GRO and were fully searchable.[6] Gradually the UK Censuses, passenger lists, and other databases were added to the site, the first being an index of the 1861 England and Wales Census in 2005.[6]

Findmypast[edit]

1837online renamed itself findmypast because of its scope had spread beyond the GRO registers.[5] The Queen's Award for Innovation was awarded to Title Research Group Ltd in 2007, for their provision of public, online access to the birth, marriage and death records.[4]

In 2008 findmypast (now purchased by DC Thomson and part of their digital publishing company brightsolid) gained a license to publish the 1911 England and Wales Census, which was added to the site in May.[5] In 2011 findmypast became sponsors of the Society of Genealogists in their centenary year and agreed a reciprocal arrangement where each would give access to one another's online databases.[7]

Findmypast International[edit]

A sister site for Australia and New Zealand was launched in May 2010[8] with findmypast.ie launched in the Republic of Ireland a year later,[2] followed by findmypast.com in the United States in July 2012[9]

Findmypast began sponsoring the UK television channel "Yesterday" in 2010. A new TV series starting in October 2011, funded by findmypast.co.uk, was believed to be the first example of a product placement and advertiser funded programming deal for a factual TV series in the country.[10]

Features[edit]

There are currently a wide variety of census, directory and historical record information available from across the English-speaking world.[11] Findmypast has over 1.6 billion searchable records worldwide but, though it is possible to search their indexes for free, a payment or subscription is required to access the full data.[12]

Controversy[edit]

In early April 2014, findmypast changed their website interface and received subscriber complaints demanding the return of the old site. The editor of the genealogical magazine Who Do You Think You Are, wrote: "Nothing annoyed people more than the feeling that they weren’t being listened to and, in some cases, that their voice was being silenced".[13] Findmypast agreed to respond to questions from the magazine, saying they "now [had] dedicated teams and a system in place to analyse all of our customers' feedback and make the necessary improvements as quickly as possible".[14]

The June 2014 edition of Family Tree magazine featured a three-page article on the website's new interface. This included responses from a spokesperson from findmypast and a critique of the interface by an expert author. A findmypast spokesperson stated, "The new search has fantastic potential and many new functions that can't be found anywhere else online", but also that "constant tweaks are being made to the site". Family Tree responded with the comment "This all sounds very encouraging if a little vague". Family Tree comments that findmypast had put out a video guide a few weeks after the launch of the new website (which) "is brief and upbeat. However, it also suggests that the technologists had perhaps won out over the genealogists".

The Family Tree Forum Administrator and expert author stated, "After wrestling with the new website for several hours on an almost daily basis for nearly a month, I was on the point of giving up." But then finishes by accepting that "I can now see that there are indeed many improvements and benefits". They also stated that "It has become too flexible with too many search options and filters, each of which offers a different search form and inevitably gives different results, and there are definitely a few things that are either not right or don't make sense".

The findmypast spokesperson stated that "If customers advise us that they are having difficulty in making use of their subscription, we are happy to extend their subscription by a couple of months free of charge...we will not see them out of pocket for any time that they cannot use the findmypast website". Family Tree commented that "This is perhaps an acknowledgement by the company that there are problems with the site and all is not running as smoothly as usual".

Family Tree concluded the article by stating that "Many of our questions remain unanswered and we are still waiting to hear what findmypast has to say".[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bradshaw, T. Find My Past set for full product TV placement The Financial Times, October 14, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  2. ^ a b Who do you think you are?, Independent.ie, October 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  3. ^ Friends Reunited to be restructured, Theguardian.com, October 2, 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-12.
  4. ^ a b Businesslink.gov.uk The Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation - Winners List. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  5. ^ a b c Findmypast.co.uk, Company History timeline. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  6. ^ a b c d Christian, P., 'The Genealogists Internet', The National Archives, 3rd Edition (2005), pp 50-53. ISBN 1 9033 65 83.
  7. ^ Society of Genealogists website Free access to Findmypast.co.uk at the Society of Genealogists’ Library – now including 1911 census January 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  8. ^ http://www.findmypast.com.au/content/fmpau_about_us
  9. ^ http://blog.familytreemagazine.com/insider/2012/07/24/FindmypastcomOfficiallyLaunchesIntoUSGenealogyMarket.aspx
  10. ^ O'Reilly, L., UKTV and Find My Past in product placement first Marketing Week, June 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  11. ^ Findmypast.co.uk, Family history records on findmypast.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  12. ^ Findmypast.co.uk, Site Tour. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  13. ^ Sue Williams (10 April 2014) "From the office: The collective passion of family historians", Who Do You Think You Are Magazine blog.
  14. ^ Jon Bauckham (8 April 2014) "Exclusive: findmypast responds to website redesign criticism", Who Do You Think You Are Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-13.
  15. ^ [Family Tree Magazine June 2014 pps 6, 78 and 79, Changes prompt customer fury. Findmypast - what have they done?]

External links[edit]