FFHS representatives met recently with the GRO (General Register Office)
management team for the DoVE (Digitisation of Vital Events) project to review
progress on the project. The most important news we learnt was that a system is
now being developed to enable the indexes to the digitised records to be
searched via the internet, and these should be made available progressively from
April 2008.

Work is well advanced on digitising the historic birth records (those from
1837-1934) and over 40 million of the 70 million records have already been
processed. These have been loaded on to the EAGLE (Electronic Access to GRO
Legacy Events) database. The EAGLE project will introduce a more efficient
system of recording and tracking customer orders within the GRO at Southport, and
its implementation is imminent.

Yet another bird’s name has been chosen as the acronym for the third project
– MAGPIE (Multi Access to GRO Published Index of Events). This will provide
online indexes to the newly digitised records, and will be accessible via the
internet, hopefully by April 2008. The FFHS has accepted the GRO’s invitation
to take part in user testing this new internet facility, although its search
capabilities may be more restrictive than the wide-ranging possibilities we
have asked for.

By April 2008, the historic birth indexes will have been loaded onto EAGLE
and the historic death records (those from 1837-1957) should also have been
loaded. This means that those indexes will be accessible via the MAGPIE system
on screen terminals at TNA at Kew (as well as via the internet) when the ONS
facilities at the Family Records Centre close. Subsequently, the loading of
the historic death records will be followed by the modern birth and death
records, then the historic marriage records (those from 1837-1945) and the
modern marriage records.

For those records that have not been added to the MAGPIE project by April
2008, access will be available at Kew, as an interim measure, to the images of
the existing indexes on microfiche and on computer. The original vellum and
paper indexes will be moved to TNA at Kew, but will not be on open access.
As a separate process, the Registrations Online project that deals with
current registrations (2007 onwards) will provide indexes of these on terminals
at the FRC by July of this year, with an interim search capability that will be
more basic than that eventually offered by MAGPIE.

We will continue to keep you informed of developments in this important

Geoff Riggs,
Federation of Family History Societies
6 February 2007