I am sorry if this is basic. But I just have not needed to create sources really up until now.

This is what I have done:

  • Create a repository with FreeBMD:

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  • Create a Source:

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  • Create the Citation:

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I assumed I would find something about FreeBMD on the internet on how to do this. Have I gone about it correctly? Is there any detail I need to add?

So it looks like this, rather bland:

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In the link that I provide:


Towards the bottom is also says:

Wikipedia {{Cite web|url=https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?cite=ifdpULTUNkDkzPHTJngVAg&scan=1|title=Index entry|accessdate=13 January 2021|work=FreeBMD|publisher=ONS}}

I see the reference to ONS. This is why I am a little confused about what I should be inputting to make this correct.

2 Answers 2


Heretical though it may be - I will say that there is no right way to do a citation. Only useful ways. What is useful to me, may not be useful to someone else. In addition, if they are read by someone totally ignorant of the topic, they will be useless.

So - a couple of comments first.

  1. That Wikipedia reference appears to be what you'd put in a Wikipedia article. The ONS reference is - to me - a nonsense. ONS are not the publishers of the (FreeBMD) source. They published the source of the source.

  2. Just because a slot is there, doesn't mean it has to be filled in. Your citation appears to have 4 references to FreeBMD - plus the URL. Even Elizabeth Shown Mills encourages us not to repeat things unnecessarily. The art is knowing what to omit - trial and error will help.

Here's what I did:

  1. I created a new Source for this entry, as my previous entries in my trees use obsolete titles. Note that I use a different person than in your case.

I have omitted the Author (FreeBMD), leaving the Publisher as FreeBMD, because I didn't want too much repetition. Personal choice.

(If entered, the Author is FreeBMD, not the GRO. The GRO created the original index. FreeBMD is a transcript of that, and the convention is that, because of the possibilities of errors, the Author for a transcript, extract, summary, etc, is the creator of the transcript, extract, etc. The GRO is the author of the original, which is why it's important to be able to see the source of the source, which you can, in that Note.)

The Note describes the "source of the source" - I have just written "Citing original indexes from GRO" - feel free to expand that if it's more meaningful to you.

Repository is "FreeBMD web-site" - having "web-site" may be felt to be pointless.

New Source

  1. Here's my Citation stuff. Remember, a Citation is supposed to do things like say, "Where within the Source is it?" and "How does it relate to the event the source is justifying?" (E.g. primary info, etc.).

My interpretation, based on the instructions on the screen, is that "Where within Source" needs to go in Detail (Required). "Where within Source" is a simple page number in a book - here you ought to enter the search criteria details. But the search criteria are contained in the transcription so why repeat? (If your reader doesn't understand using FreeBMD, they need a training course, not your citation...). So here I entered just "Death Indexes" which is, short of the entire search criteria, about the only choice you can make en route to the data.

Transcription should contain just that. It's the most important thing - it's what you find when you get there. There's a horrible tendency people have of putting District, Volume and Page, etc, in against FreeBMD as if they are references for how to find the index. They're not. They're references for how to find the actual certificate.

Web Address - I just put the address of the web-site. Some people will put the URL of the index entry but there is no guarantee that FreeBMD won't change its URLs. You should be abe to find the index entry again from the transcript.


So finally it looks like this: Final Result

I would contend that to anyone who understands FreeBMD, they can use my resulting Source Citation to find the record again.

What's Missing: Primary / Secondary / etc, should presumably go in Other Information against the Citation.

This is one where Ancestry's scheme creaks because of the ludicrously vague nature of Detail(Required). The above is the result of several comments back and forth.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. Concerning point 3 … it IS on Ancestry. But Ancestry refuses to allow you to attach the result or even view it if you don't have a paid subscription. As a result I must do my own. I have left my Repository as FreeBMD (nothing else) until someone suggests otherwise. I have renamed the Source as per your title and only use FreeBMD as the Publisher. And I simplified the citation detail and made use of the Transcript section and simpler URL. I await other comments for other pertinent improvements. Jan 14, 2021 at 16:21
  • 1
    But this is 1920, so it has to be 1916-2007 right? Although I don't know where we pull out "1916 to ..." from. Jan 14, 2021 at 16:24
  • You ask where did FreeBMD get their data from. It looks like that it is direction from the GRO Index content: freebmd.org.uk/FAQ.html#1 But I don't really know. Jan 14, 2021 at 23:22
  • 1
    According to point 30 here freebmd.org.uk/FAQ.html#32 “FreeBMD is a transcription of the GRO (General Register Office) Index, authorised by the GRO.” That is what their site says. I propose that somewhere in the source section, or repository section. Jan 15, 2021 at 0:08
  • 1
    I have editted the answer to incorporate revised explanations and screen shots taking account of the comments below it and deleted my comments. I have also taken the liberty to remove your edits to the answer since they respond more to the previous version.
    – AdrianB38
    Jan 15, 2021 at 12:18

ONS (Office for National Statistics) only appears because it happened to be the parent department of the GRO (General Register Office) at the time when FreeBMD obtained permission to use their index information and images. But in 2008 the GRO was transferred to what is now the Passport Office. The GRO has had several different parent departments since its creation, but it has always been the GRO, so I agree there is no value or relevance in using ONS as part of a citation.

The transcription data has been created by FreeBMD, mainly from film or fiche versions of the GRO's hard-copy index books, but sometimes from digitised copies, or even the books themselves while they were still available.

So FreeBMD is the author, or publisher, or both, but the question of the repository holding the source material is problematic. The index books have not been available for public consultation since 2007, and only the various (and different) surrogate versions can now be viewed. So there is no repository in the accepted sense, because the physical books are in a set of crates in a storage facility. So if I were forced to use Ancestry's citation template, I would leave this field blank.

There are several fields which are irrelevant in this case, but I am surprised that they don't include a 'date accessed' to go with a url. On FreeBMD the details of an entry can change, since they accept corrections of transcription errors, so the details of an entry on their site may be different from those given in the 'Transcription of text' field; you could use 'Publication date', at a pinch, but it's not ideal.

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