National Burial Index - Project Overview
The National Burial Index (NBI) for England and Wales assists family historians find burial records. The NBI is now a national archive, giving worldwide access to sources held by local repositories, family history societies and groups who are participating in the project. A cumulative edition is produced at approximately four-yearly intervals. The NBI does not contain monumental inscription records or death registrations.
Scope and What Is Involved
Burial records are transcribed mainly by family history societies although helpful individuals contribute as well. The sources used are: parish registers, bishop's transcripts, earlier transcripts or printed registers, cemetery and crematorium records in all locations (parishes).
Each society appoints a coordinator who recruits volunteers and maintains a cumulative society burials database which the society may publish at any time. Data collection progresses either by the use of the Shroud computer program (designed for the project) or by any program that the coordinator chooses, for example, Excel or Access. Whatever the program, a definition of the NBI database is supplied by the FFHS. Periodically the coordinator sends the most recent batches of burial files to the NBI Data Managers for further checking and consolidation.
Although coverage in terms of years and locations is now much more extensive, there are still gaps because not all family history societies are able or willing to join the project due to restrictions to access records, a lack of volunteers, or other commitments.
As an ongoing project, further collections of records are encouraged and continue to be received by the FFHS Data Managers. The First Edition contained 5.4 million, the Second 13.2 million, and the recent Third Edition containing over 18.4 million covering some 9100 burial locations in 50 counties. (See map and county tables). Burials for the NBI are added cumulatively so that all should appear in each edition. However, this is not always the case since contributors sometimes change or even delete records during their regular record-validation of previous files.
We have attempted to erase duplicate records but not between parish register and the corresponding Bishop's Transcript, or a parish and the corresponding cemetery register record. Occasionally contributions from different providers cover the same location. In recognition of their hard work sometimes both sets of burials remain rather than deleting one. Such duplication may work to the searcher's advantage in having two independent transcriptions of near-illegible records!
Handle With Care
As with any genealogical index, and not a full transcript, the NBI is only an aid which may help find where and when a person died or was buried. If you cannot investigate the source record, contact the society or group which extracted the information for any further details such as occupation, abode, relationships - some may charge a small fee for this research. (See Contacts).
Anyone who has undertaken the transcribing of parish records understands the difficulties of accurate recording. Poor handwriting, semi-illiterate clerics, disintegrating paper and the ravages of time often lead to false interpretation. Do remember that the voluntary transcribers and checkers are not fully qualified palaeographers!
The majority of providers agreed to permit a proportion of unchecked records with the hope that these could be corrected for any new edition. Each place is annotated with the percentage of entries that have been checked (and corrected where necessary) and are fully listed within the program itself. We rely heavily on the contributor's perception in this matter so settled for the maxim 'societies will contribute checked records to their best ability and resources’.
Installing & Using the NBI
Full instructions on how to install the program, start the Viewer and search the data entries are given in the comprehensive booklet enclosed with each CD pack. We observe the requirements of the Distance Selling Regulations but you, in turn, have to agree to and accept the Terms and Conditions of the FFHS Software Licence Agreement.
For use in a Library or Archives Office, please contact FFHS Services Ltd for a Public Access Licence & the fee charges. FFHS Member Societies' only may use this product within their research / library premises and for demonstration purposes. There is no need to purchase a Public Access Licence.
To All Contributors
The FFHS would like to convey its appreciation to all NBI co-ordinators and the hundreds of volunteers for their dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work which has made the three editions of this Index possible. Also Carol McLee as NBI Project Co-ordinator, Peter Underwood for managing the records and writing the Shroud data program, Peter Lord for transforming some of the larger databases and, last but no means least, Steve Archer for writing the NBI Viewer program.
We Need your Help with this Project
The NBI has proved to be a useful signpost to these important parish records and we hope this will greatly encourage hundreds more to continue this worthwhile work in the future and make the fourth Edition even more valuable. If you wish to contribute in some way, please contact your favoured family history society. (See Contacts)