I have been slowly acquiring birth, marriage and death certificates. Is there a best practice or accepted procedure for posting these to an online tree? I would not post a certificate for any living person - however, how about a certificate for a deceased person whose children are still living?

  • genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/173/56 and genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/86/56 might be duplicates of this one. Do they answer your question? As far as subjective, most ethics questions are.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 2:29
  • In using terms such as "best practice" or "standard procedure" you have done as much as you can to emphasise that you are not seeking mere opinion. The other applicable buzzword would be protocol. But I suspect that in this particular area, the subjectivity may be ineradicable.
    – Fortiter
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 12:51
  • Have you read the guidance at blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective? If you emphasise that you're seeking answers backed up by experience, facts or references that explain why they're good answers, the question should be OK.
    – user104
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 18:38
  • Thanks for the comments
    – Jeni
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 22:19

2 Answers 2


Each country will have its own laws regarding the publication of official documents. Copyright and privacy are the most likely concerns.

In the UK, birth, marriage and deaths certificates are Crown copyright. However, The National Archives website (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/our-services/faqs.htm) include a pdf file that gives specific guidance on copying official certificates, in effect granting permission subject to certain conditions:

You are authorised to reproduce the layout of the form in any format including on the web, in films and in print. This authorisation is subject to the following conditions:

That you must not use reproductions of certificates to provide evidence of birth, death, marriage or civil partnership. Where a copy is required to provide evidence that an event was registered you must order an official certificate (’extract’ in Scotland) from a local registration office or General Register Office (listed below)

That the material is not used to advertise or promote a particular product or service, or in a way which could imply endorsement by HM Government

That you comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998. This guidance does not authorise you to reproduce the contents of any certificate containing personal data about living individuals

That you reproduce the Royal Arms and any departmental logo only as an integral part of a certificate


I agree with Fortiter's comment that "best practice" and "standard procedure" are the right buzz words.

I suggest the question be posed along the lines of the possible duplicated Luke found, "What information should or can I publish to a web site?" Ditto, after Jeni has read that question and the related answer.

To me, rather than being duplicative, Jeni's question falls in the similar but different category.

  1. Jeni provides specifics that apply to the circumstance of the question.
  2. She could further improve the specifics by either adding names of one or more "online trees" she's thinking about using, or the type of "online tree" she would use. (The type might be, a) personal site, b) tree sharing site (WorldConnect, Ancestry, MyHeritage, findmypast, etc., c) "one tree" systems--WikiTree, Geni, FamilyTree.)
  3. Jeni's profile already identifies her location.
  4. Death certificates are a particularly interesting case, because they do call out the names of living persons. I also recall specifically that after my father passed away, mother took it a little personally that his death was being reported online by a distant cousin while she (mom) was still his widow and very much alive.

The answers posted to the possible duplicate did not include many references. Sue Adams included a reference, texnic provided first hand information that was relative, and Robert Hoare described a reference. Evidencing that some subjectivity exists on many questins, most of the answers provided some opinion (which I thought was fine).

  • Just a thought but is the location in the profile enough? (Not everybody will click through to look). Also, the location in the profile may not directly indicate where the webserver is located.
    – user104
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 18:32
  • References to locations in the body of the question are sure helpful. I raised the point because in his answer to the possible duplicate question (link above), Robert Hoare writes, "The answer will be different depending on the country your webserver is in. It may also vary by the country of residence of you or a person mentioned, and by the country the site is being accessed from. So, in short, there are no easy answers!"
    – GeneJ
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 18:52
  • The 'online tree' I recommend we focus on is stackexchange. Ie what is practice for attaching these particular images (birth cert etc) to Q&A of genealogy.se?
    – Duncan
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 11:42

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