20 May 2008

UK: Marriage authorizations online, meeting

Tracing the Tribe reported previously (January 2008) that the British Jewish Marriage Authorisation Certificates would be searchable online.

The first batch of records is now available in this long-term collaboration between the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (JGSGB) and the United Synagogue.

Louise Messik has been single-handedly indexing the records, due to confidentiality agreements with the United Synagogue. She has indexed 3,900 records from February 17, 1880-December 30, 1886; eventually the database will cover 1845-1907.

Search the database here or here. The fee to obtain records is £15 for United Synagogue/JGSGB members; £20 for non-members. Click here for more information.

These records are for marriages under the Office of the Chief Rabbi of England, which provided local rabbis permission to conduct religious ceremonies. The certificate was provided after both bride and groom proved they were Jewish according to Jewish law or had an acceptable conversion certificate.

Other information: Proposed place and date of marriage, Hebrew/English names of the bride and groom, addresses of the couple, country of origin of the couple, Hebrew names of the fathers of bride and groom, Hebrew names of the groom's unmarried brothers (in case of levirate marriage if the groom died without issue) and which would attend the ceremony.

Some researchers asked why there is a confidentiality agreement for such old records and JGSGB chair Laurence Harris provided more information on this issue and about a meeting set to discuss the new database.

When JGSGB enters into agreements to transcribe or index records for other organisations, these organisations often have different sensitivities and requirements concerning their data. It is always necessary for us to be mindful of these requirements, and we need to comply with them in order to gain permission to index/ transcribe and to build up a positive mutual relationship, so that we get offered more databases to transcribe in the future.

With particular reference to the United Synagogue (US) Marriage Authorisations, the US consider the information on the full certificate to be strictly confidential and special arrangements have had to be put in place to ensure that it remains so whilst we are preparing the index.

Without going into too much detail, confidentiality agreements have had to be signed and even I, as Chairman of JGSGB, have no access to the information on the certificates being indexed. I hope this clarifies the confidentiality issue.

The JGSGB will meet at 8pm, Thursday, June 19 to focus on this project, and expert speakers from the London Beth Din, United Synagogue and JGSGB (including Louise Messik) will address

- The certificates and the genealogical clues they hold
- The history and role of the certificates
- How to search the new online index and how to order a certificate
- Audience questions to the panel of speakers

JGSGB member tickets are free; non-members, £5); seating is limited. To obtain a ticket (first come - first served), email Harris at chairman(AT)jgsgb(DOT)org(DOT)uk.

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