Find your ancestors for free with the help of The Online Genealogical Index

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08 April 2021
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Tim Manners introduces the Online Genealogical Index, the result of a seven-year project to help family history researchers to find free versions of genealogy records from the many different family history websites on the internet.

Have you ever wondered how to find specific genealogical records online?  Do you wish you knew where to find free versions of records only referenced on subscription sites such as Ancestry and FindMyPast?

Maybe you could find the Online Genealogical Index useful.  Known as the O.G.I. for short, this database covers more than 400,000 records for England, Wales and the Isle of Man. Other countries may be added in the future.

Tim Manners, the founder of the OGI, was always frustrated to hear people interested in their family history say, “I just don’t know where to look.”  He realised that if there was a database of records online for free, it could help people quickly find what they need.  

How do I find family history records for free?

In 2014, The Online Genealogical Index arrived online. Since that time, it has grown from a few thousand data sets to a over 407,000 covering all major subscription sites and thousands of small sites unknown to many. These include:

  • transcriptions of parish registers
  • graveyard surveys
  • pedigrees
  • school records and more

A data set can contain a handful of records or tens of thousands. The OGI has gone through a complete reworking in March 2021 to speed searching and add new filtering options. All you need is a place and approximate year to get started.

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Place searches

The big difference with the OGI is searches are made of specific places.  If your ancestor gives their birthplace on a census or you know a marriage location, searching these areas can result in links to sites holding records for that place.  You can even specify record type and year ranges.  Results will show if the site holding the record set is free or subscription but most of these are free at any Family History Centre.

OGI step-by-step guide

1. Visit the site. It is also compatible with phones and tablets

2. From the home page, choose the country you wish to research. Currently, England, Isle of Man and Wales are available

3. You can now choose the county and the place. The year range and record type are optional

4. The results list columns can be sorted by clicking on the headings. To filter a list of results, type a word in the Filter box. You may wish to filter by church name or website

Clicking on the blue links will take you to the required page in a new tab.

You can read the latest information about the OGI by using the News link in the menu to read the blog.  Data is uploaded every few weeks.

The OGI is completely free to use and requires no registration. Use it as a starting place for your English, Welsh or Isle of Man research. You will save hours of research time by avoiding the sites that do not hold records for your ancestral places.

As this is a free site, if you find its function useful, feel free to donate a small amount to help with its running costs. We hope the OGI will be around for years to come and help us find the records we need.