VIC BDM Online Family Search – interim advice

Most people will know that in February 2019 the Victorian Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages introduced their new web site.  There were numerous reasons for this new site – many of them having nothing to do with searching historical indexes – however this also meant that the type of searching with which we were familiar no longer existed.

VAFHO (Victorian Association of Family History Organisations) has analysed and compared the historical searches and results and consequently has written to the Registry of BDMs identifying the changes from the previous system to the current one.

In the meantime VAFHO strongly recommends that all users should try to access the former Digger CD Indexes or even the earlier microfiche indexes to ensure that they have the correct certificate before purchasing it online.  These former indexes are available at the State Library of Victoria and many Family History / Genealogical Societies.

The key request from VAFHO to the Registry is that the new search facility should provide ALL of the data and functionality that was available in the previous version, not LESS.  This includes data previously available online or on the Digger CDs.

The Victorian BDM Indexes were previously considered to be the best in Australasia but unfortunately they are now considered to be the worst.

The following data and functionality have been identified as missing:

GENERIC

  • Given name variations missing – you could search for John and get Jno; George and get Geo; Thomas and get Thos and vice versa etc.
  • PLACE OF EVENT (where it does appear) shows as PLACE, Australia – if Australia must be included it should also include Victoria.  It’s obvious that it’s Victoria as you’re searching Victorian BDMs BUT adding Australia can add to the confusion.
  • BACK button (when viewing a record) takes you back to PAGE 1 regardless of which page you came from.

BIRTHS

  • Mother (Parent 1) doesn’t show GIVEN NAME(S)

MARRIAGES

  • BOTH marriage entries are being shown in Reverse – Spouse 1 with Spouse 2 then Spouse 2 with Spouse 1 – this doubles the number of entries you are required to search.
  • PLACE OF BIRTH is missing for all entries for both spouses.
  • PLACE OF MARRIAGE was progressively being added to Marriage entries, now missing.
  • BACK button (when viewing a record) takes you back to PAGE 1 regardless of which page you came from.

DEATHS

  • Missing AGE – impossible to identify which certificate to order when there is no indication of age of deceased.
  • Missing PLACE OF BIRTH from earliest until part way through 1880 was show on previous search and Digger.
  • Mother (Parent 1) doesn’t show given name – particularly bad as numerous entries have UNKNOWN for Mother’s maiden name.
  • NAME OF SPOUSE – was progressively being added to Death entries – now missing.

As the Registry progressively makes some amendments to the search function and results, some of the above may be corrected, however at the time of sending the letter to the Registry these were all outstanding issues.

VAFHO urges all users who contact the Victorian Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages to be polite and constructive!

7 comments

  1. My sentiments exactly like so many others doing FH back to micro days this has been the worst up date of any, I have written to BDM and expressed my thoughts politely much as you have above, hopefully they will take heed and at the least give us back what we had we can all live in hope

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  2. It’s great that VAFHO has highlighted these data problems for the general public and i personally will continue to use Digger for searching. I have to say that the Vic Digger disks have never had as much information as the SA ones which i feel are the most useful of all that have been done. I am a manager of a family history collection, assisting Genealogy researchers all the time and the Vic website is something we avoid due to very little information being available. I feel that Geneaology isn’t a priority to the current Vic BDM and their records will likely stay the way they are for a long time. Disappointing to say the least.

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    • Hi Jacque,

      I think perhaps with the previous online Vic BDM indexes you hadn’t discovered the extra information available when you selected a record to view – that is what made it the best in Australasia. Hopefully we will receive all of that and possibly more. And of course Family History isn’t the priority objective for the new online system – thankfully the Registry are ensuring that the correct information is RECORDED for birth, death and marriage registrations. That is far more important than working on data that we know is already recorded (and being added to) for historic records. We can already see that the Registry has started working on the historic searches which has changed since the above-mentioned letter was sent to them so rest assured they are not ignoring family historians. Patience and Courtesy will get us there.

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  3. Totally agree with all of that, and with all of you. I have written to them 3 times now with different issues – but being constructive in doing so. I use the site almost daily as a genealogist by trade, and it has impacted my business in more ways than one – but I told them this and i’m sure they know the gravity of the situation for all of us. It’s just a matter of how quickly they can rectify it. My one question still is – why can’t they still offer the “old search system” as QLD do?? So true that VIC was at the forefront before – but sadly now only just ahead of Tasmania.

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    • Unfortunately if they left everything as it was before we would end up with another Digger CD situation where new technologty and operating systems didn’t support the old database and search. And of course it would be impossible for them to leave one part as it was and just update the data capture end – impossible to maintain for any organisation. We know it was one of the best and I have faith that it will again become one of the best once they sort out the issues. I think we’d all agree with that!

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      • Yes totally agree with you. I don’t know much about how systems work but what you say makes sense – I wonder how QLD manage it however. The issue for many of us is that we cannot access the former Digger indexes on a daily basis like we did the website – it’s not viable when running a business – but it’s a fantastic option for others doing their own research and I’ll promote this at GSQ when I am next on duty. My issue in the last two days with Vic BDM site is that I have to reset my password every day – each time you logout you have to create a new password. I do feel for them having so many issues but wonder why it wasn’t tested before it went live?? I hope it all comes back to us soon 🙂

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  4. G’day,

    If you read the details they didn’t decide to remove things without consulting stakeholders – they just didn’t get the search and display part right in their new system. Still no excuse for not proper testing and therefore all this anxt for their users. But hopefully time will show the missing data – which is not missing, just isn’t displayed. And as a result of that they have got the search parameters messed up as well. As I said – hopefully will all get sorted as requested by VAFHO and numerous other societies and individuals. Regards … Susie Z

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