Tag Archives: digitisation

London Lives 1690 to 1800 – a great new resource

28 Jun

London Lives 1690 to 1800 – Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis is a great new online database which according to the website "includes over 240,000 manuscript and printed pages from eight London archives and is supplemented by fifteen datasets created by other projects. It provides access to historical records containing over 3.35 million name instances".

I heard about this new database on the Today programme this morning, although it took me a while to actually find the website earlier today that I was wondering if I had dreamed it. It was well worth seeking out the website, I have only scratched the surface of the website but it provides a great example of a digitisation project and how to bring together many resources focusing on the same subject.

London Lives brings together "a wide range of primary sources about eighteenth-century London, with a particular focus on plebeian Londoners." It provides registered users with the facilities to "link together records relating to the same individual, and to compile biographies of the best documented individuals."

Sadly I haven’t traced any of my ancestors back to eighteenth century London yet, but it was fascinating to have a look around the website and browse the records. The website helpfully provides a  Copyright and Citation Guide, which should be useful for family historians, and an in-depth section of Historical Background which itself includes a section of Research Guides.

Even if you don’t find ancestors amongst the documents, there is plenty of other material to keep you occupied for hours. If you do find you ancestors amongst the documents the historical background and research guides will help you interpret what you have found.

London Lives was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and implemented by the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield and the Higher Education Digitisation Service at the University of Hertfordshire.

Which of my ancestors did I get my cynicism from?

20 May

You will no doubt already read about the partnership between the British Library and brightsolid to digitise their newspaper collection, so I am not going to bore you with the details again.

Obviously this is good news and a step in the right direction especially as the British Library seem to have had an aversion to sharing digital images with anyone other than academic libraries. However my cynical side needs to see some more details before I can get excited about it.

Are they going to digitise the newspapers I want? The mention that they “will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911” worries me. Perhaps it is very selfish of me but what if my ancestors didn’t come from those specific geographic areas.

What is it going to cost me to view these images? Will I be able to afford to browse a whole newspaper? Am I only going to be able to view a specific page brought up as search result?

Also consider the timescale. The headline figure of 40 million pages is due to be delivered over ten years, with a minimum of 4 million pages in the first two years. So please don’t hold your breath, it could be a long wait.

Please don’t get me wrong, it is good news, but I won’t be getting excited about it until I see what the results are like, how good the index is, how they are delivered and how much it costs. That’s enough for now, my glass is half empty,  I must go and fill it up!

What UK resources can we look forward to in 2010?

15 Jan

The two major players in UK online resources have given us a few teasers about what we can expect to see on their sites in the coming year.

The offerings from Ancestry.co.uk

  • We are pleased to announce that we will be bringing you the 1911 England and Wales Census Summary Books. This content will be available to customers on all of our membership packages for no additional cost.
  • We’re continuing to add significantly more original Parish registers, to help you go even further back into history.
  • We’ll continue to put more fascinating records online from our exclusive London Metropolitan Archives partnership, including Bishop’s Transcripts, School Admissions, Probate and more.
  • We’ll be growing our extensive military collection, adding more Immigration and Occupational records and further developing our international record collections for Worldwide members.

and from findmypast.co.uk

  • We will be significantly expanding our military records, including launching online for the first time anywhere Chelsea Pensioner service records and militia attestation papers (detailed military registration service records, containing personal details and physical descriptions). These are being provided in association with The National Archives.
  • Our BMDs section will be overhauled and improved, including the addition of greatly enhanced maritime records.
  • Irish and Scottish records will be arriving soon, establishing findmypast.co.uk as the primary family history site for the entire UK. And we’re continuing to add even more specialist records to enable you to approach your research from all angles, including more parish records, our forthcoming London probate indexes and our new Merchant Seamen registers.
  • We will be adding more navigation and useability improvements to the site, including improved search screens and results pages, cross census search and saved records.
  • We have new video tutorials on the way, showcasing our site redesign and helping you to get the most from your research.

Probably the highlight this year will be the release of the Chelsea Pensioner service records from findmypast. These have been in the pipeline for several years and will make available online the records for pre-WW1 soldiers similar to those that were released by Ancestry for WW1 soldiers.

Much of this new material is coming out of The National Archives, but don’t forget the volunteers of Ancestry World Archives Project working away on the British Postal Service Appointment Books from the Royal Mail (24% complete as I write this).

No doubt there will be other releases from other sources, although I don’t expect to see any result from the digitisation of the GRO BMD indexes, but we might get some more news from the British Library on the digitisation of their newspaper collection.

I am sure there will be other releases to look forward to during 2010. Do you know of any that I have missed? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

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