How-to: BC Archives Genealogy Search

The BC Archives helps you explore the
history of people, places and events in British Columbia. Whether you’re a
seasoned genealogist, or researching your family history for the first time, we
have the resources and staff to point you in the right direction. In this video,
we’ll show you how to perform a basic search using the genealogy search tool.
The genealogy search will give you access to records of births, marriages,
deaths and baptisms that have taken place in British Columbia.
These records provide detailed information about people who lived or
died in the province and BC citizens who died overseas during World War II. In
order to protect the privacy of those involved, the BC government legislates
when genealogy records can be made available to the public. It differs from
case to case, for example, marriage records only become
available 75 years after the event. To get started with your search choose the
type of record you’re interested in by checking or unchecking the boxes above
the search fields. You can choose to search all types, or just one, such as
births. Next, use the search fields to give any details you may have. Feel free
to leave fields blank if you’re not sure. Keeping your search broad early on will
provide more results. When you’re ready, click the search button. As an example,
let’s search for the death registration of actor Errol Flynn, who wasn’t born in
BC, but did die here. At this stage we recommend that you don’t add any other
information, such as age at death or event place. Information passed down
through family stories or secondary sources can be incorrect, and may
invalidate your search. It’s a good idea to put the first name inside a pair of
asterisks. This will tell the system to search for the name regardless of
whether it was used as a first or middle name. Also if you’re not quite sure of
the spelling or form of the first or last name, the asterisks will act as a
wild-card bringing up more responses. We also recommend that you keep
the date range broad to account for any discrepancies. If your search is
successful, the system will give you one or more results that look like this. In
some cases the original document has been digitized for accessibility. If a
digital image of the document exists, a link to it will be displayed in the
vital stat images line of the description. If there is no image
attached, but there is a microfilm or registration number, we invite you to
visit the BC archives in person and view the record on microfilm. Just make a note
of the registration number, or copy the URL for later use. You can also check to
see if the record is available on sites such as familysearch.org or
ancestry.com. If you’re having trouble getting results, click the Help button. It
will take you to a search guide with more information about browse and
keyword searching. To make the most of your search, remember to use asterisks
around the first name, try multiple spellings and make sure your event
happened in BC. Lastly, keep your search broad. If you need help with your search,
please contact our Reference Desk at 250-387-1952 or email [email protected] Our staff are available
to help you access other records and resources useful for genealogy.

Stephen Childs

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