New collection of death records on Ancestry, 2007-2013, from “Various sources”

A new collection was published on Ancestry today: nearly 1.5 million death index transcriptions, dated between 2007 and 2013. The title is somewhat misleading: this is NOT an extension of the GRO index.

Every genealogist will tell you to state your sources, but unfortunately the source information on Ancestry is somewhat vague: stating simply (on 22 January 2015 at least) that it comes from ‘various sources’.

The collection also doesn’t seem to be particularly complete, although there is no doubt that it’s sizeable. The Office of National Statistics tells us that nearly half a million people died in England and Wales in 2011 alone, so even a very rough estimate over seven years (or even five) would amount to many more than 1.5 million.

Each record is ‘index only’, perhaps in this case because it was born digital. Each record gives details of name, gender, age, birth date (sometimes just year), death date (day, month and year), residence at time of death and the first part of the postcode, suggesting some kind of postcode-linked database. 

By all means search the database (unfortunately all my initial searches were unsuccessul) but as with all research, it’s probably worth finding additional sources to back up your conclusions.

A further index of 400k or so ‘Scotland and Northern Ireland Death Index, 1989-2003’  has similarly woolly source info, again stating origins in these mysterious ‘various sources’.

Perhaps more information will follow later; I very much hope so, because a full source citation is essential to assess the reliability of your sources. The historical and genealogical community (and me, as a regular user and longtime subscriber) asks you please, Ancestry, to improve your source information.  

0 Responses

  1. Just doing a bit of research on this index that I found on ancestry and happened on your blog post. Interesting information you have provided. I have found a death in this index and this helped to explain a bit more for this index. Luckily I was also able to locate this death in a newspaper so backs up this sources information.

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