1 December 2015

Postems on FreeBMD (England and Wales)

This is an updated version of a post that I originally published here in August 2010. It is also one of my contributions to 'Worldwide Genealogy: a Genealogical Collaboration'.

FreeBMD is an ongoing project to transcribe civil registration indexes of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to those transcribed indexes. FreeBMD is an immensely useful site, and I like it even more since it produced the unexpected bonus of contact with new relatives via 'postems'.

An excellent feature of FreeBMD (but one that is overlooked by many genealogists) is the ability to add a postem (a short message, 250 characters maximum) to any entry in the FreeBMD database.

The postem can tell people how to contact you - or if you buy a certificate that turns out to be for the wrong person, you can help other researchers by putting details from the certificate in a postem.

Here is a step-by-step example of how I used a postem.

I searched FreeBMD for the birth registration of Bertha OAKLEY, who (according to census records) was apparently born in 1895 in County Durham. This is the search screen.

The search result looked like this.

I clicked the 'Info' icon and added a postem with my contact details.

When someone adds a postem, an envelope icon appears beside the entry, as shown below. You click the icon to read the postem.

To my delight, a distant relative contacted me as a result of my postem! She had information about Bertha OAKLEY's grandfather, Benjamin PEACOCK, who was a brother of my great-grandmother, Mary HUDSON nee PEACOCK.

This was just one of several similar successes that I've had with FreeBMD. I now always add a postem for each index entry that is (or could be) for my family... and I need to go back and add some that I didn't do originally.

I also use the 'search postems' feature to quickly check whether anyone else has added one that may be relevant to me. Here is an example of a search...

...and the search result, showing two postems that fit the criteria.

If you have used FreeBMD to find births, marriages and deaths for your family, I urge you to:
  1. Go back and add postems to all of those entries.
  2. Include an email address that will be valid long-term, such as a free Gmail address from Google.
  3. Check the text carefully before you click 'create', because postems cannot be changed or deleted.
  4. Before you start, read the Postems Help page.

I use and recommend...


  1. I have done this Judy, but not so lucky to date. such a fantastic idea tho.

    1. I hope you are more successful in the future, Ros. I couldn't believe my luck when I received the email from a *second* relative - and at that time I'd only added fourteen postems!

  2. Brilliant idea, thank you for that tip!

    1. I hope you find postems as useful as I have, Michelle. Please spread the word.

  3. Oh Judy I could cry sometimes about the stuff I just don't know. I had never heard of this before and am so embarrassed that I hadn't heard of it. Thanks for blogging about it. Another little bit of my ignorance has been chipped away :)

  4. Alex, I'm so glad that I could give you an idea of something new to try. I've learned a lot from your Family Tree Frog blog, so consider this my way of thanking *you*!


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