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We have a new question, How to find place of burial or cremation in Gloucestershire? which was originally flagged as a duplicate of Verifying birth & death details in England for the 20th century? , and has now been edited and then re-opened.

In the comments on that question, which aren't visible any longer, I made a case that it should not be considered a duplicate of a question about death records because burial records are a different record type.

Now the question has come up about whether it should be considered a duplicate of Finding out where someone who died in England during 20th/21st century is actually buried?.

That's a very good question. Let's talk about it.

Looking for the burial record is obviously the same task, but if we are talking about two different counties in England, won't the local resources be different for each one?

How close do two questions have to be, before we declare them duplicates?

Your thoughts?

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  • @ColeValleyGirl Good catch, thanks for fixing that. I should learn not to post before the morning caffeine kicks in.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Jun 27 '15 at 16:31
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I think the answers have to be taken into account as well as the questions -- if I was to answer the new question, I would cut and paste my answer to the old one and not change a word (except maybe take out the specific references to Surrey and leave it to the new OP to generalise to their county of interest).

If the question was about two different States in the US, I'd expect to see a lot of difference in the answers (but perhaps some commonality of methods -- I'm not knowledgeable enough to tell).

In the UK (especially in England) the resources for 20th century burials/cremations are the same resources by-and-large -- the only difference would be if a local genealogist or genealogy society had done some very localised transcripts... The same can't be said for different record sets or different timeframes.

Which doesn't help come up with a definitive rule -- somebody knowledgeable about a particular topic/geography will spot a duplicate whereas someone less familiar will not. Perhaps the answer is to let the close (and re-open) votes run until there's an informed consensus built rather than a mod step in to close and open very quickly.

(It would also have helped if I'd flagged the right question as a duplicate to start with -- another insufficiently caffeinated moment).

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  • I apologize for clearing the moderator flag so quickly. I've pinged the other mods to alert them to this question.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Jun 27 '15 at 17:59
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While a "one size fits all" answer is nice, it is not really practical in this case.

The vast majority of records in England and Wales are not centralised. Civil registration is one obvious, and major, exception. Cemetery records are in no way centralised, and while there are a few privately run websites that claim to cover the whole of the country, none of them really do, and any serious researcher will need to examine the appropriate cemetery or burial records in the jurisdiction in which they occurred. The availability and accessibility of such records will vary by county, city, and council.

A question like "How can I find a cemetery record in England" is not a question that can be given a useful answer because it is so broad. If the questioner narrows it down to a county, or preferably a town, then a detailed and useful answer might be able to be provided.

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Re: this comment:

In the UK (especially in England) the resources are the same resources by-and-large -- the only difference would be if a local genealogist or genealogy society had done some very localised transcripts... Or if the timeframe was vastly different (17th century instead of 20th century for example).

Perhaps a long-term solution might be to write a general 'canonical' question for the whole of England/Wales (and the rest of the UK, if applicable), to which new users can be directed for general help, but leave the localized question available for answers with more local knowledge.

My reasoning is, for a newcomer, it is easy to find the general answer by doing a simple Google search. It is more difficult to find those localised transcripts and other local resources, and even if you do find them, it isn't always easy to know how to apply them to your problem.

I freely admit that I am biased in favor of having county-specific questions, in part because I'm in the US. But I've also done a lot of work in Devon, which has peculiar difficulties about finding records that are not found in other areas of England, such as the destruction in Exeter during WWII that wiped out the local wills.

So while I agree that all the England & Wales questions will have a lot of overlap by nature, my general instinct is to leave them open so we can talk about local record loss and other local issues.

Also:

Perhaps the answer is to let the close (and re-open) votes run until there's an informed consensus built rather than a mod step in to close and open very quickly.

I agree with this. Some of us may be checking in multiple times a day; other community members may visit once a week, or even less frequently. It makes it difficult to build a consensus when we are on such different time frames, which is another reason I wanted to open a discussion on Meta.

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  • @ColeValleyGirl I do see your point, which is why I upvoted your answer. Let's give everyone in the community, including the other mods, a chance to see this and post their views.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Jun 27 '15 at 17:42

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