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.