Free UK Genealogy

MentorPatReynolds (PatReynolds)
Project Website
Project Repository
Suitable for Beginners?yes
TagsMongodb Ruby on Rails CSS/HTML Refinery CMS Open Data Machine learning AI Web development Web apps
Applications (1st Choice)0 (0 submitted | 0 in-progress)
Applications (2nd Choice)0 (0 submitted | 0 in-progress)
Code of Conduct
LicenseApache 2.0

Project Description

FreeBMD, FreeREG and FreeCEN are three popular web projects run by Free UK Genealogy CIO (a Registered Charity in England and Wales). Free UK Genealogy provides free online access to historical data of interest to family historians and others. Our main focus has been the UK census and the registers of births or baptisms, marriages and deaths or burials. Over two decades, thousands of volunteers have so far transcribed over 400 million records. All are available, completely free of charge.
The databases, search engines and user interfaces are largely designed and maintained by volunteers, supported by a small team - a full time developer (Vino-S), a part-time project manager (richpomfret), and three part-time management and admin staff (PatReynolds, DeniseColbert and two Helens who are not on github). FreeREG and FreeCEN use MongoDB, Ruby on Rails, and Refinery CMS. FreeBMD uses other software, and we are moving to using Rails and Refinery CMS with MySQL.
We’ve written a blog post, ‘How to get involved with Open Source’ which explains how you might get involved with an Open Source project - including ours - and some more about our projects and how we manage them.

Project's Requirements

Because we are all home-based, we feel that our opportunities may be particularly suitable for people who are unable to commit to a traditional 9-5 office placement, for example those with certain disabilities, or caring responsibilities for children or parents.
FreeCEN and FreeREG work in two-weekly sprints, meeting at UTC 15.30 - 17.30 every other Wednesday. FreeBMD2 works in weekly sprints. We also use Slack for communication and have channels for tech volunteers and projects. You will be invited to join our community.
A few skills which are good to have but are not necessary:
Ruby on Rails
Refinery CMS
AI or machine learning
Experience in documenting your work
You will be getting support from a range of mentors, depending on the languages and skills needed in your your project. We aim to develop your skills and confidence, providing both group/one-to-one support where needed and ensuring you don’t feel out of your depth.
Some of our work is absolutely suitable for beginners, particularly the implementation of FreeBMD2 - let us know which of our ideas you would like to work on or the kind of skills you want to grow and we can work out what might be a good fit for you.
You are encouraged to try out our websites before or during the summer. If you are unfamiliar with (British) genealogy, a good place to start is - a free online course. Maybe you could even become a transcriber - so you can suggest new ideas and paths which you can work on independently.

One course you could use to get familiar with MongoDB is: MongoDB University
Upfront: could you help out with one of the ‘good first issue’ tasks from our waffle board? If you can replicate a bug or accessibility issue - can you look at the code and suggest where the problem might lie? Perhaps suggest a solution?

Tasks And Features

  • Work with volunteers and staff to understand and document the full requirements for a feature
  • Suggest and explore solutions to issues with the features
  • Write code, and follow the test processes
  • Document your work, including providing help notes for users, if required Potential projects are tagged “SoC” on github and some are explored in more depth here: They include: Interactive Search (FreeCEN) To explore and experiment with building machine learning/ai routines in order to build a search interface to replace the interim interface which we have on which starts with asking the person’s name, and then adds additional questions one at a time to arrive at an unique individual or small number (ideally 20 or less) of individuals who may be the person being looked for.]

Review FreeCEN2 Site usage Patterns
A task to investigate how best to optimise our MongoDB sharding strategy based on how the database is used. This is a good opportunity to learn more about how non-relational databases operate and how best to optimise them based upon user data/searches. In order to decide on sharding strategy and shard key (#260) we need to know how users are actually using the new system to choose shard key based on typical usage patterns instead of just a guess at what the patterns will be. Of particular interest is whether most searches are done by specific census years or by "all years" as all years was not even an option in FC1.

Working on a new interface for - -


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Ifunanya Ikemma, Saturday, September 14, 14:22 UTC

Hi, I'm Ifunanya Ikemma. I'm super interested in this project, please can you guide me on how to contribute. Thanks

Harshita Khandelwal, Friday, May 3, 12:19 UTC

I am Harshita Khandelwal and I would like to contribute to this project. please guide me how to start.

Arshita Bhatt, Thursday, April 25, 06:12 UTC

I am Arshita Bhatt. I wish to contribute to this project. Please guide me how to start.

meghna , Friday, April 19, 09:16 UTC

I am Meghna. I find this project interesting and I am interested to work on this project . Can you please guide me to start .