Friday 4 March 2011

Finding archive resources just got easier

The launch of Irish Archives Resource means there is now the prospect of one single source of information about archive collections across Ireland.

The new website,, officially launched yesterday evening at a reception in Dublin's Merrion Square, is a portal through which researchers can locate publicly accessible collections. This doesn't mean that entire collections have all been digitised and uploaded for your pleasure. (Dream on!)

It means that the researcher can more easily find collections of interest, establish where they are held, who to contact for more information, and the how, when and where of visitor access arrangements.

Importantly, archivists are required to upload details of their collections in a new and standardised descriptive 'keyword' process suited to the Internet. This differs from the traditional method of cataloguing which are generally written in pre-technology 'archivist-speak' which most family historians find heavy going.

Within the description of each collection are details about its size and condition or legibility, an indepth explanation of its scope, and advice on photocopying etc.

At this launch stage, 18 repositories are taking part, most of them city or county archives. Joining them are collections from Guinness, Irish Film Archives, PRONI, two university archives, and records from the Royal College of Physicians.

As more archives recognise the value of this portal as a way of raising awareness of their collections, the site will continue to grow. Take a good look at it, and don't forget to bookmark it for when you're next wondering where you can hone in on some feature of your ancestors' lives.