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FreeBMD is a UK-based charitable organisation founded in 1998, and established as charity in 2003 to create a free transcription of the indexes to Births, Marriages and Deaths (BMD) for England and Wales from 1837 to 1983. It also provides on-line access to images of the pages of the BMD indexes.
FreeBMD was founded in 1998 by Ben Laurie, Graham Hart and Camilla Von Massenbach, with the intention of creating a searchable version of the General Register Office indexes of England and Wales. The three founders were joined in 1999 by Dave Mayall, and in 2010 by Allan Raymond. The project became a registered charity in 2003.
In 2005, FreeBMD absorbed the formerly separate, but closely allied, projects FreeCEN and FreeREG, bringing all three projects under a single trustee body, while retaining autonomous day-to-day management.
As of October 2013[update], FreeBMD has transcribed over 232 million distinct records, which represents the overwhelming majority of births, marriages and deaths registered in England and Wales from 1837 to 1961.
FreeBMD is engaged in an ongoing project to transcribe the General Register Office (GRO) of England and Wales indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths. In 1999 they secured an agreement with the GRO to publish records that were more than 100 years old and initially concentrated on transcribing the marriage indexes, with births and deaths to a lesser degree. However, in 2003 the GRO agreed an open policy to transcribe all of the data and, since that time FreeBMD has transcribed births, marriages and deaths for later years. FreeBMD uses volunteer transcribers. In 2005 it was estimated over 8000 volunteers were helping the project, transcribing from microfiches of the original register pages and also submitting individual entries.
The organisation publishes material only via its websites, which contain free searchable databases of all transcriptions to date.
The organisation's facilities are available to all without the need to become a member. Those who transcribe data for the project sign up for membership online, in order to allow access to the relevant facilities.