Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Merged Waterford Archives upgrade online resources

As you may remember from my report in mid-June, Waterford City Archives and Waterford County Archives have been amalgamated. While there are still two venues, one in the City and one in Dungarvan, 45km away, and no immediate option of bringing the full collection under one roof, there is only one archivist: Joanne Rothwell.

Despite having to now split her time between the two existing venues, Joanne took time out to tell Irish Genealogy News about how more of the archives' materials will be making their way online.

"Instead of the two distinct websites we had before, details of both archives can now be found on the combined City & County Council's brand new site: From the Culture & Heritage section of the Home Page, visitors can quickly navigate to find details of the archives and the collections each holds.

"But the new site has also allowed us to introduce a dedicated section to Researching Family History. It has a much more prominent placement on the Home Page, and we are signposting some of our most popular collections there. Researchers can click through to the type of collection they want – Newspapers or Burial Records, for example –, or they can click the section title to explore a menu of other material."

The result of this is that some of the material previously somewhat 'hidden' on the old sites is easier to find. The Waterford Newspapers War Archive is a good example of this. The database holds an extensive collection of articles dating from 1914 to 1918 and from 1939 to 1947; it's easy to use and a mine of information, but was under-used because researchers didn't know of its existence or couldn't locate it on the old site.

Joanne tells me that some historical City maps will be added in the next week or so, and photo collections will be joining the line up, too. The Burial Registers of St Otteran's, which date from 1862 to 1916 (with a few gaps), will also be added in pdf format, and more newspapers will be added to the general newspaper collection within a couple of months.

It's worth stressing that everything that was available on the two old websitse has migrated to the new site. Nothing has been withdrawn. The intention is only to improve and add to the online offering, not reduce it, and Joanne is working on the new site on a daily basis. Sometimes this may mean a collection or database 'disappears' temporarily. Such events will be short-lived, however. It's usually a sign that fresh text or material is being uploaded to a collection.

The new site is still very much 'under-construction', but it is certainly starting to come together. "We're putting a lot of time into making the new site more user-friendly and making our resources more accessible," says Joanne.