In these unusual times when we have greater opportunity to contemplate things, we may have been giving more thought to those we have lost touch with or not seen in a while – be it because we are curious to find out what an old pal, work colleague or relative is doing now or we want to make sure they are doing well.
We consequently will have been considering just how we can get reacquainted. Thankfully, more resources are now available to view online although, please note not everything is and where it it, there may be a charge for accessing details. Where this is the case, the following check list will identify the website as being subscriber based.
The Library of Birmingham neither endorses nor can be held responsible for information provided by any of the external websites listed.
To make things easier, we’re going to divide what’s out there into five easy to follow categories:
- Telephone Directories
- Marriage, Death & Burial Indexes
- Electoral registers
- Message Posting services
- Tracing services
There are several websites providing access to current UK telephone directories but you will need to have the name(forename and surname) of the person you are looking for as well as a location – town or city.
BT Phone Book – www.thephonebook.bt.com – Free to access.
UK Phone Book – www.ukphonebook.com – Subscriber based.
There are also websites providing access to overseas telephone directories:
Cyndislist – www.cyndislist.com – Hotlinks to online telephone, email and postal directories. Go to the Categories section on the Home Page and then select Finding Living People.
Numberway – www.thisnumber.com – Free guide to international online telephone directories including white and yellow books.
Marriage, Death & Burial Records
The GRO (General Register Office) index of marriages may be helpful in locating a relatively recent marriage – as well as knowing the name of the person you are looking for, it will help your search if you have a good idea of when the marriage took place and where. You will not be able to see the certificate online but you can purchase a copy from the GRO website – www.gro.gov.uk. The certificate will provide addresses for both parties. Please note the indexes cover marriages recorded in England & Wales only. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own indexes. See here for our guide to using the GRO website.
Various websites provide access to the indexes but it is not possible to list them all here. They also vary in the availability of date ranges for the indexes:
www.freebmd.org.uk -1837 – 1992. Free to access.
www.bmdindex.co.uk -1837 – 2005. Subscriber based.
www.ancestry.co.uk – 1837 – 2005. Subscriber based.
It’s sad to say but as a consequence of our research, we may have to consider the person we are searching for may no longer be alive. In such cases, you may want to consider searching through the GRO index of deaths. The three websites listed for access to marriage indexes above also provide access to death indexes for the same date ranges although coverage on Ancestry runs to 2007.
The GRO website provides access to more recent death indexes up to 2019. To access these, please click Register/ Log In, join up free of charge and then select GRO Online Index.
Burial records & Death Notices
Tracing the last resting place of a friend or relative isn’t the easiest of tasks as there has never been a comprehensive register of this kind. If you believe your relative or friend may be buried in one of Birmingham’s council-run cemeteries or crematoriums, you can search www.birminghamburialrecords.co.uk which holds over 1.5 million entries up to 2014. A free search of indexes is possible but payment is required to access details of the date of burial and plot reference number.
You can also search for obituary notices free of charge at www.iannounce.co.uk.
The electoral register or voters’ list will provide access to details of all those occupants of a property eligible to vote. The current legal age is 18. There are various websites providing access to relatively up to date UK registers. It will be assumed you have the forename and surname of the person you are looking for as well as a town or city where they live:
www.ancestry.co.uk – 2003 – 2010. Subscriber based.
www.ukelectoralroll.co.uk – Subscriber based.
www.searchukelectoralroll.com – 1980 – 2020. Subscriber based.
www.192.com – Subscriber based.
www.findmypast.co.uk – 2002 – 2014. Subscriber based.
Message Posting services
A number of websites allow you to leave or view messages left on a virtual notice board:
There are also a selection of charities and organisations who may be able to assist your search although they will have conditions for the types of enquiry they can assist with:
www.forcesreunited.co.uk – For military personnel.
www.look4them.org.uk – A listing of six organisations to assist and advise.
www.salvationarmy.org.uk/uki/familytracing – For close family members.
Finally, you may wish to hire a professional private investigator to carry out a search for you. The following two bodies should be able to supply you with details of bone fide investigators in your area:
Association of British Investigators – www.theabi.org.uk
Institute of Professional Investigators – www.ipi.org.uk
All the best with your search and good luck!
Paul Taylor, Archives & Collections Co-ordinator