I am a great supporter of free access to online genealogical databases. This is not only because I am a destitute graduate student, but also because I’m rather of the opinion that much of this information should be in the public domain, available to all. I think it’s a bit mad that I should have to pay for the privilege of seeing my own great-uncle’s death certificate.
Then again, in several cases I have paid for this information, so I’m hardly a bastion of righteous refusal.
In light of this, I wanted to take a moment here and laud the OnLine Parish Clerks Project for the County of Lancashire.
From their website: “This site aims to extract and preserve the records from the various parishes and to provide online access to that data, FREE of charge, along with other data of value to family and local historians conducting research in the County of Lancashire.”
This source is a goldmine for anyone with family connections in Lancashire, England. Several dedicated volunteers have transcribed thousands of county births, marriages, and deaths, all searchable, all free, free, FREE. The death records often include causes of death–macabre little gems (for me, at least). The marriage records often mention witnesses to the event, which may potentially give the genealogist insight into further family/friends connections.
The OPC is clearly a labor of love, and that kind of dedication shows. Kudos to these folks. Even if you have no connections to Lancashire, take a little time to mess around in the records; I’ll bet you a cookie you’ll find something interesting there.