Thursday 28 November 2013

Dáil Library's wealth of documents opens to public

A 1592 map of Ireland by Abraham Ortelius
The Oireachtas Library & Research Service has opened up its catalogue to the public. It includes its collection of 'documents laid' ie reports, documents and accounts presented to the Dáil and Seanad from the early 1920s to the present day.

This will be continuously updated (about 2000 documents are laid each year).

A separate section of the website releases significant elements of the Dáil Library's Historical Collection, most of which was gathered by the Irish government following independence.

Dating back to 1600, this section includes the Dublin Castle collection, the Irish Office collection, and smaller collections such as the York St. Club, the Milltown and the Fitzgerald.

To illustrate the range and depth of material within the Historical Collections, three online exhibitions of some notable items have been produced: Maps and Mapping, Ireland and the Crown, and Building Modern Ireland.

The offficial press release says: This Online Public Access Catalogue will provide the research community and the public with access to over 80,000 reports, pamphlets, maps and other documents; promote the accessibility and transparency of documents laid before parliament and will promote and facilitate self-service across government departments, academics and other users who seek copies of documents laid or historical material.

I've spent some time in the Documents Laid section today and found a great example of some of the gems to be discovered: a 1936 report on the Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System. This has details of the qualifications and conditions of service of teachers employed in these institutions, the grounds for committal, the type of 'technical training' given, and the system of 'boarding out'. What terrific information for any family historian with an ancestor who attended or worked in the system!

And just to give an idea of the range of subjects you can find in the collection, here are some of the other documents I came across: a 1940 report on Air Raid Precautions, the Rules of The Illegitimate Children (Affiliation Orders) Act, 1930, a 1968 report on the Irish Greyhound Board and the 1999 Review of the Irish Genealogical Project.