Thursday 7 November 2013

Three-quarters of PRONI's visitors are genealogists

The annual report of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has been published today and shows that genealogical research is still the main attraction for visitors to the office in Titanic Boulevard in Belfast.

In fact, the percentage of visitors citing family history as the purpose of their trip has grown slightly. In 2011/12, the figure was 73%; in 2012/13 it was up by four percentage points to 77%.

The number of first time visitors dropped slightly to 5,121, and the overall number of visitors was down a little, too, at 16,619 for the year. Of these, half (51%) were from Northern Ireland. 13% were from the USA, with the same number from England or Wales. 7% had travelled all the way from Australia or New Zealand, while only 6% had crossed the border from Ireland.

The top twelve documents produced/requested in PRONI in 2012/13 were:
  1. First Newtownards, Presbyterian Church - Index to Baptisms and Marriages (1833-1921).
  2. Three documents comprising Register of Baptisms of Carnmoney Presbyterian Church, 1708-1800; Register of Marriages of Carnmoney Presbyterian Church, 1708-1807; and A Census of Ballyeaston Congregation giving names of persons, age, occupation.
  3. Folder of typescript indexes mainly to church registers (1862-1953) of the Church of Ireland and Presbyterian churches in the Glenarm and Carnalbanagh districts, Co. Antrim.
  4. Valuation Records – Annual Revision Lists for the Electoral Division of Coleraine
  5. Indexed note book giving marriages, births and deaths of various families of Carnmoney Presbyterian Church. (1708-1917)
  6. Register of baptisms and marriages of Killinchy Presbyterian Church. (1819-1824)
  7. Volume containing a census of the population of the district of Christ Church, Belfast, belonging to the Church of Ireland. (1852)
  8. Lists of names of heads of families and their children and number of members in each family in the Rev Watson's congregation at Killinchy Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church (1841)
  9. Register of baptisms and marriages of 1st Ballymoney Presbyterian Church. (1817-1829)
  10. Names of 14,400 Protestant householders for parts of the counties of Londonderry, Donegal, Antrim, Armagh and Tyrone taken from the returns to the Irish House of Commons concerning religion (P.R.O., Dublin bundle 75 of Parliamentary religious returns). (1740)
  11. Records of Newtownards Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. Copies of registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths. (1827-1921)
  12. Flaxseed premiums, consisting of a list of persons adjudged eligible to receive flax seed premiums from the trustees of the linen manufacture in 1796, arranged alphabetically by county.
This list is based on documents requested via e-CATNI; it doesn't include items accessed through the self-service microfilm service.

In 2012/13, 97% of documents were produced within 30 minutes. The average retrieval time per order was just below 15 minutes, which probably goes some way to explaining why 96% of visitors said they were satisfied with their visit.

Of course, it's not always necessary to visit PRONI in person. The institution's website continues to be highly successful in improving access to its collections via the Internet. In 2012/13, some 561,047 visits were made to the website to view 10,278,818 pages.

The most popular database collection on the site in 2012/13 (April to March) was the Ulster Covenant, followed by the Will Calendars.  (I understand from a chat with Stephen Scarth at last month's Back To Our Past that the Griffith's Valuation Revision Books have taken top position since their release in late March 2013.)

View the Digest of Statistics from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland 2012/13. PDF download, 2.4Mb.