Friday, 17 November 2017

FindMyPast adds miscellaneous military collections

FindMyPast has added a number of military collections sourced from The National Archives (UK). You can see the full list and details here.

The two listed below are the most likely to be of interest to those with Irish-born ancestors who served in the British Army. You'll need either a UK or World subscription to view the records*.

British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers' Medical Records
The collection holds more than 212,000 names and includes details of when, where and how individual servicemen were wounded, and where they were treated. The search page lists the medical facilities and hospitals represented in this record set.

British Armed Forces, First World War Widows' Pension Forms
Transcripts provide the following details about the serviceman and his family: service number, regiment, cause and date of death, spouse's name, marriage year and children's names, while images may provide further information about attestation and service. This collection of just under 9,000 records represents less than 2% of the original set; the rest were destroyed.

*This strikes me as unfair when the records cover an era when Ireland was still part of Britain. The records are every bit as Irish as they are Scottish or Welsh or English.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Explore Your Archive 2017, 16-26 November

The Archives and Records Association, Ireland (ARAI) has launched Explore Your Archive 2017. week-long campaign, which runs from Saturday, 18 November to Sunday, 26 November 2017, celebrates the role of archives in preserving Irish history and aims to highlight the unique potential of archives to tell exciting stories, surprise people and bring communities together.

Run jointly with the Archives and Records Association in the UK, the campaign seeks to encourage people to engage with the items held in archives around the country and discover what life in Ireland was like in days gone by. Participating organisations, both north and south of the border, will open their vaults to display collections of stories, films, photos and other rare artefacts throughout the campaign.

Felix Meehan, Outreach Officer, Archives and Records Association, Ireland, said: “This year marks the fifth Explore Your Archive week and it is fantastic to have more than 30 organisations from across Ireland offering a lively programme of activities for visitors to explore. We invite people to visit participating archives in person but also virtually, with many participating organisations hosting online exhibitions of digitised collections that can be easily accessed from home."

Events taking place during Explore Your Archive 2017 include:
  • The National Archives of Ireland will host a free seminar to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Fenian Rising. Expert speakers will discuss the challenge of interpreting the historical record of the Fenians. 10am–1:30pm, Saturday, 25 November.
  • UCD Archives is hosting an online exhibition entitled ‘The finest of men’. The exhibition will feature documents concerning those imprisoned in Irish and British jails following the 1916 Rising until the general amnesty of June 1917.
  • Dublin City Library & Archive will host a conversation with artist Gavin Murphy on his research into the architectural and performance history of the now defunct Eblana theatre. To celebrate Explore Your Archive week, Gavin Murphy will donate a copy of his Eblana Theatre Productions Database to the Irish Theatre Archive for public access. 11am–12pm, Saturday, 18 November.
  • The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is hosting a number of workshops (all now fully booked) and talks.
  • NUI Maynooth Archive will host an exhibition showcasing the correspondence of Sir Edward Baker Littlehales (1764-1825), Private Secretary to Lord Cornwallis (Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) 1798-1801 and Under-Secretary at the Military Department, Dublin, 1801-1819. 20–27 November.
  • Tipperary Studies will hold drop-in sessions about the processing of the Murphy Ballinamona (Cashel) Negative Collection which was donated to Tipperary Studies in 2016. Pat Bracken of Tipperary County Council Library Service will show how the negatives were presented and the work which was undertaken to scan the negatives and convert them to online images. 3pm–4:30pm, Monday 20 November.
For more about the Explore Your Archive 2017 campaign, see the ExploreYourArchive website. For details of events, see Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland.

This year’s campaign will also see participating organisations take part in a colourful and creative social media campaign with different themes and prompts for each day of the week. Organisations will be delving into their collections and sharing some unique items with their online audiences. The campaign can be followed on Twitter: @archivesireland, #ExploreArchives; and on Facebook:

Irish civil bmd records: latest on the recent upload
Late yesterday afternoon I spoke to the managers of It seems Monday's upload of additional GRO records was released to the public in error; a test site was supposed to be doing the rounds within the GRO, allowing any errors in function or delivery to be sorted out before it went live. Instead, it just went live.

Unfortunately, the test site had quite a few problems: an 'old style' index remains on the site, causing duplications; registration districts had gone awol in older index entries resulting in nil returns when searching by registration district; many of the new-release of records were not available, and where they were, they often were flying solo, ie without the image of the register entry.

These problems are now being resolved and it is hoped all will be ironed out by the end of the day. At that point, the records on the site should be:

  • Birth records - index plus image of birth register page: 1864 to 1916
  • Marriage records - Index only: 1845/1864 to 1869; index plus image of marriage register page: 1870 to 1941
  • Death records - Index only: 1864 to 1877; index plus image of death register page: 1878 to 1966
This morning I can see the matter of the N/R registration districts appears to have been resolved. The older death records are also being uploaded but not all of them yet have images attached, and the duplicated index remains. So there's still some work to do but it's clearly in hand.

Once this upload is completed, we will inevitably start pining for the remaining parts of the collection (marriage register images 1845-1869 and death register images 1864 to 1877) to be fully available. I'm told these will be along in mid-2018.

I've also been asked to pass on that errors submitted via the feedback page of have been actioned in this latest upload. The cut-off was July this year. So, if you submitted details of an error prior to the end of July, you should find it corrected; if it is not, please resubmit giving date of your original feedback submission.

If you sent such details from August onwards, it will be actioned as part of the 2018 upload.

I'll update on this page later today, or tomorrow, as necessary.

The duplication of the new and old indexes still needs to be corrected,
but at least the registration districts have been restored.

Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives: new files added

Mary Eliza White of Fethard, Co Wexford,
died and buried in Waterford, 1897.
Photo courtesy of Steve Rogers and IGP Archives
Click for larger image.
Below are the files added to Ireland Genealogy Project Archives (IGP-web) in the first two weeks of November. They have all been submitted and uploaded by volunteers and are available to the public to view without charge:

CAVAN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Drung Old Cemetery (Updated)
Laragh (CoI) New Graveyard

DONEGAL Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Alt Upper, Presbyterian Church Graveyard

DUBLIN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Mt Jerome, Dublin - Part 181

LEITRIM Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Gortletteragh Cem., Cloone (Additional)

MONAGHAN & FERMANAGH Genealogy Archives - Church Records
Clones Registers, Burials 1811-1814 (E. Division)

MONAGHAN Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Corlea Presbyterian Graveyard

TYRONE Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Fivemiletown Cemetery (Additional)

WATERFORD Genealogy Archives - Headstones
Johns Hill, Waterford City

WEXFORD Genealogy Archives - Newspapers
Work House Admissions & Deaths, 3 Feb 1864 , 6 Apr 1869

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

NLI secures funding for 'Towards a Republic' project

The National Library of Ireland has secured funding for its Towards a Republic project, which will see the digitisation of some of the personal papers of the signatories of The Treaty in preparation for the centenary of the foundation of the State.

The funding is part of the Government's €2million handout to a new cultural Digitisation Scheme; it will be shared among a number of digitisation projects planned by National Cultural Institutions and cultural heritage organisations.

Towards a Republic
is the National Library’s next major cataloguing and digitisation project, marking the second phase of the Decade of Commemorations from 1917 to 1923.

The digitised papers will be made released online on a phased basis between 2018 and 2023. These rich archives will allow everyone to explore key moments such as suffrage, 1918 Elections, the First and subsequent Dáils, the Peace Conference, the Anglo-Irish War, the Treaty negotiations, and the Civil War.

Personal papers of John Devoy, Arthur Griffith, Rosamond Jacob, Annie O’Farrelly, John Redmond and the Sheehy Skeffingtons, amongst many others, provide complex insights into the events and personalities that shaped the later revolutionary period and Civil War. They go beyond the experience and perspectives of the individuals themselves through their correspondence and interaction with diverse and opposing figures and organisations.

Announcing the funding, Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, said: "I know that there is a large public appetite for these materials, which will reveal the social, cultural and political context of the period.

“The importance of digitisation was really underlined during the 2016 centenary year, when a number of our national cultural institutions made a wealth of material available online for the first time. The new scheme will help our cultural institutions, together with a number of other cultural heritage bodies, to build on this work and digitise their rich and varied collections for the benefit of the public.”

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

20% discount on's Thanksgiving gifts
Expires 23 November
This Thanksgiving, is offering a 20% saving on new membership subscriptions and DNA tests purchased as gifts. (Yes, you can purchase them for yourself as a gift... go on, you know you're worth it!)

Subscriptions: The discount is available only on 6-month and 12-month gift memberships (non-recurring). It is for new subscribers only and not for renewal of currect subscriptions. You select the date you want the subscription to start and provide only an email address of the recipient. Ancestry then contacts the recipient by email on the start date.

The discount reduces the cost of a subscription as follows:
US Discovery package:  12 months – pay $149, save $40, or, 6 months – pay $79, save $99.
World Explorer package: 12 months – pay $239, save $60, or, 6 months – pay $119, save $30.

DNA test kits: The discount reduces the price of a kit to US$79. Shipping costs are extra. You provide the name and address of your recipient (must be in USA) and the testing kit is sent to them, with full instructions of how to take the saliva test and where to send the kit once they've taken the necessary action. Six to eight weeks after the laboratory receives the dna sample, your recipient will receive his or her ethnicity estimate and details of the matches made in the huge Ancestry DNA database.

The discount will expire on Thursday 23 November at 11:59pm.

More than 8,000 Irish seamen recorded in the registers of the Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital in Greenwich

I found the time over the weekend to rummage around in the Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital Admissions and Discharges, 1826-1930, collection, released online last week by Ancestry. 

The Dreadnought was originally a hulk moored in the Thames at Greenwich as a hospital for seamen. It was run by the Seamen's Hospital Society, and  I wanted to look through the register collection because this was where one of my grandmother's sisters, Hester, trained as a nurse and died of cardiac arrest in 1926, just 26 years old, during an operation to remove her appendix.

Sure enough I found Hester in the registers. There were three entries over an 18-month period. The details tallied with information gleaned from a newspaper report of the inquest into her death, so didn't really tell me anything new except that the first time she sought medical help for the lower abdominal pain she was experiencing, she was diagnosed with dyspepsia. This was 18 months prior to her death.

In addition to the medical details, her home address in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow was noted only in that first entry, but all three entries recorded her religion, occupation, age, and the name of her doctor.

Where there was a surprise, however, was the number of Irishmen in the registers. Of the 221,114 entries in the collection, more than 8,400 relate to Irish-born seamen. The level of identifying personal information varies over the 100+ that the registers cover, but if you have seafaring ancestors, you may be lucky enough to place an ancestor in these records.

The image above provides a sample of the information in the index; the registers themselves fill in the colour: how long the seaman had been at sea either in the navy or the merchant service, rank, height, name of the last ship they served on and the port it sailed from, the nature of their medical complaint, and how and when they were treated.

Update, 15 November: The Ancestry Blog carries useful background into the Seafarers' Hospital and its records, here.

Galway 1917: Social Conditions & Political Change, conference
Click for booking details and full schedule
Organised by Loughrea Memorial Group in partnership with Galway County Council, a day conference – Galway 1917: Social Conditions & Political Change – will be held at the Loughrea Hotel & Spa on Thursday 16 November.

Six lectures, briefly noted below, will be presented during the day. An exhibition relating to the Connaught Rangers who were killed in 1917 in France and Flanders will be on display, and there will be a number of books for sale relating to the social and political change in Ireland during this period.

Tickets cost €10 and include tea/coffee and a light lunch.

The lectures:

 A state of desolation – poverty and living conditions in Co. Galway in the decade before independence, with Conor McNamara

'No local industry shall be disturbed' – life and work in Galway in 1917, with John Cunningham

 Sources in Galway County Council Archives – reflecting social conditions and political change in 1917, with Patria McWalter

Irish policemen and the First World War, with Jim Herlihy

A typical Irish parish in the Great War, with Ger O’Meara 

What it says in the papers – local news in Co. Galway over the course of 1917, with Steve Dolan

Monday, 13 November 2017 adds more free historical birth, marriage and death records

Over the last couple of hours, has been uploading another instalment of civil registration records, complete with images of birth, marriage and (possibly) death registers. upload is taking its time, and I can't say exactly what its final make-up will be, but so far I can confirm that the 1916 births (the rolling year from 100 years ago) are available, and the index + register image of marriages from 1869/1870 to 1881 seem to be going live in steady fashion (the 1882-1940 records were already fully online). For my own family, I can see register images of marriages in Cork, Tipperary and Wicklow for those dates.

I'm getting mixed results for death records, with either no results appearing if I narrow down my search, or loads of results with no images for pre 1890. Possibly the death records will go live later. For deaths, the 1891 to 1965 index + register images are already online, so it's the pre-1891 and the 1966 updates we're hoping for.

I'm sorry I haven't got time to do an indepth analysis right now. I'm in a hospital with my mother this afternoon, so this will have to wait until I have more time, which may be a day or so. (She gets priority!)

In the meantime, I'm sure you can all go hunting for yourself! Have fun!

Update, 16 November: See blogpost.

Irish Newspaper Archives revises subscription prices

Irish Newspaper Archives, the family-run, Dublin-based online newspaper database, has reduced the cost of its monthly and annual subscription packages.

This is not a special, short-term discounted price; it's a revision of standard prices going forward.

The new tariff is as follows:
  • Monthly subscription now €29.
  • Annual subscription now €149.00
It's worth noting that the revised cost of the annual package equates to a monthly fee of €12.41.

If you take out a subscription before 17 November you can take advantage of a 20% discount, too. See yesterday's blogpost about a new addition to the database, which now holds 75 historical newspaper titles.

Subscriptions can be paid in your preferred currency:   Euros  |  US Dollar  |  GB Pound