Friday, 25 April 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: V is for Vital Statistics
Nowadays, the most common use of the phrase 'vital statisics' is when referring to your waist measurement!  You have also probably heard "check his vitals" when you watch some medically-based TV shows.  But as a genealogist, 'vital statistics' mean something quite different.

'Vital statistics' are births, marriages and deaths.  You may also hear "vital records" or "BMDs" and they are often kept by civil registration.  Civil registration began in this country (UK) in 1837 and still continues (Sweden began theirs in 1631). This is what provides birth, marriage and death certificates. I wrote about certificates in my A-Z Challenge 2012 post here,    Back then in 2012, FreeBMD had transcribed over 214 million records (of references you need to order a certificate).  Two years later, and it is over 302 million. 

In 1837, some people were wary of registering vital events in their lives, in case they were going to be taxed (well, that's not such a stupid idea; there had already been weird things like hair powder tax, window tax, and dice tax).  In fact, it was not until 1875 that it became compulsory to register, and unfortunately some errors have crept into the registers over the years, which is why you may find some difficulty occasionally when searching.

And it's the searching where this years 'back to genealogy basics' comes in.  When you are looking for an ancestor, don't expect to find the exact village in civil registration indexes.  Villages, towns and cities were organised into registration districts, so for instance the village of South Pool is in the Kingsbridge Registration District.  My ancestor wasn't born in Kingsbridge!  Don't let that lead you down the wrong path.


  1. Wow-they love to tax...and still do. I give up on my wait measurement:) I can't believe how much it has grown and Sweden! wow One has to be careful about the district and not get it confused that it is a town-will keep that in mind

    1. The district-not-the-town thing was one of those things I wished I had learned waaaaay back when I started...

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thanks for sharing this blog your blog is very nice and informative.

    Vital Statistics



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