Family history is front page news

Who’d have thought that family history could become so trendy? The latest government IT f**up is at the Family Records Centre in London.

For years, genealogists and family historians have pored over the massive green and maroon ledgers at the Family Records Centre in London, searching for details of more than 150 years of births, marriages and deaths. But there was anger or outright incredulity this weekend as professional and amateur researchers arrived to find most of the shelves bare.

There will never again be public access to the paper records, the index to where in the country all the births, marriages and deaths were registered, but – as so often with government IT projects – the timetable for the online version intended to replace them has collapsed. According to a spokesman for the Office for National Statistics, which is responsible for the General Records Office, “the present target is to have the online index available by mid-2009”.

I don’t suppose the ONS had allowed for family history becoming the middle-class high-profile hobby of choice, thanks to Who do you think you are? etc. Oops.

More here and here.

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