Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: O is for … Online Parish Clerks (OPC’s)

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: O is for … Online Parish Clerks (OPC’s)

I found that coming up with something for the letter “O” of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge was a bit of a toughy, but finally found some inspiration, and would like to tell you about one of the websites that I’ve used a lot with my research.

(or OPCs as they’re more commonly known)

Online Parish Clerks are a group of volunteers who transcribe parish records, and make them available online for free. The main Online Parish Clerks website makes the statement that OPCs “… are volunteers who collect genealogical information about a specific parish and answer email enquiries without charge”. Sound too good to be true? Well, it is 100% true.

As genealogists we all know that parish records are fabulous records (and by that I mean MUST-HAVE records). I mean they include baptisms, marriages, marriage banns, and burials … so of course genie’s are gonna love them! But the OPCs go further than just the ‘core’  records. Depending on the county, you’ll also find histories of towns, old maps, monumental inscriptions, indexes of wills, as well as military records.

The volunteers involved with the Online Parish Clerks Project are not only passionate about genealogy, but are also wanting to give something back, and do so by transcribing records, and answering queries, rather a variant form of Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK).

There are 11 individual OPC websites running at present, each covering a different English county: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Somerset, Sussex, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire. Fortunately Cornwall, Devon and Sussex are where my main research focus lies at present. Remember the ‘transcriptions on the OPC websites are all a ‘work-in-progress’, but between them, they’ve transcribed millions of records – which is an amazing effort by any standard.

If you have connections to any of the counties listed below, take a wander over to the relevant Online Parish Clerk site, you just never know what you might find.


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