Ancestry's Rhona Murray told Irish Genealogy News that this collection gives an insight into the destitution being experienced across Ireland at this time of hardship and struggle. Letters tell of pleas “for aid towards the relief of the starving poor who are now in the greatest state of destitution and complete starvation”; as well as reports of workhouses being closed or indeed full; and the fighting spirit of the community working day and night in an attempt to save people from “death by famine”.
An earlier AWAP project on this collection resulted in 6,747 records being indexed by the name of the author of each letter, the location, and an abstract of the subject of the letter. This project was carried out by Ancestry's WAP volunteers across the world and, in keeping with ethos of this community, the indexes are searchable free of charge.
'Revisiting' the images will allow more names to be extracted from the body of the letters, as well as subscription lists that accompany the letters – the list of landlords, list of chairmen and secretaries of relief committees. By extracting additional names from the collection, further light should be shone on the individuals involved in the relief efforts.
Rhona says Ancestry would welcome assistance from those in Ireland and across the world who would like to volunteer their time and help extract additional names from this valuable collection of papers. The collection is ready for keying (the handwriting can be difficult but it's generally legible) and volunteers can begin by downloading the AWAP keying tool.
Once logged in to a free registered guest account, volunteers can select the option to key the Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847, and will be provided with detailed keying instructions of the information to extract from the images. All indexes keyed by the AWAP community will be then made available for free on the Ancestry website.
The original data for this collection is held by the National Archives of Ireland, as follows:
- Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847. RFLC3/1, Incoming Letters: Numerical Sub-series. The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin Ireland.
- Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845–1847. RFLC3/2, Incoming Letters: Baronial Sub-series. The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin Ireland.