Thursday, January 22, 2015

Findmypast makes Irish Poverty Relief Loan records available online for the first time to mark Irish Family History Day

With the addition of exciting new record sets, leading family history website Findmypast is now the best place to research your Irish ancestry

Dublin, Ireland. 23 January 2015. Findmypast has digitised and is publishing the Poverty Relief Loans records from The National Archives in London online for the first time. This release - together with the addition of a new, easier to search version of the Ireland Census 1911 - makes Findmypast home to the largest online collection of Irish family history records anywhere in the world.

New records: Poverty Relief Loans

The Irish Reproductive Loan Fund was a privately funded micro credit scheme set up in 1824 to provide small loans to the ‘industrious poor’ – those most affected by poverty and famine.

This collection of almost 700,000 records, which span the period of the Irish Potato Famine, provides unique insight into the lives of those living in Ireland during one of the darkest periods in its history. The handwritten ledgers and account books reveal the changing fortunes of Irish ancestors and their subsequent movements in Ireland and across the world. Now anyone can go online and research individuals and families to find out more about where they lived, their financial situation, their social status and more besides.

Brian Donovan, Head of Irish Data and Business Development for Findmypast, said “These incredibly important records provide an exceptional insight into the lives of the poor across the west of Ireland from Sligo down to Cork. The people recorded are precisely those who were most likely to suffer the worst of the Famine or be forced to emigrate. These remarkable records allow us to chart what happened to 690,000 people like this from the 1820s to the 1850s, giving a glimpse of their often heart breaking accounts of survival and destitution, misery and starvation. We are very lucky to be able to tell their stories.”

Caroline Kimbell, Head of Licensing at The National Archives in London said “This collection is one of very few about individual Irish families from 19th century held at Kew. We are grateful to Findmypast for bringing these remarkable testaments to light.”

These new records complement an expansive collection of Irish records - including Irish Petty Sessions, Irish Prison Registers, Irish newspapers and Irish Births 1864-1958, to name a few – that make Findmypast the best place to bring Irish family history to life.

Exclusive Irish records – digitised for the first time

As well as the Poverty Relief Loans, Findmypast has today added other new Irish record sets, including the Clare Electoral Registers, which reveal early women voters and is only available online at Findmypast, the Ireland Census 1911 and over 800,000 Irish marriages dating back to 1619.

The Ireland Census 1911 is an excellent starting point for anyone researching their Irish ancestors. Findmypast’s powerful search will for the first time allow family historians to search for more than one family member at the same time, helping to narrow down results, and by birth year and by spelling variations of a name – all making it easier than ever to trace Irish ancestors.

Irish Family History Day

This year, Findmypast’s Irish Family History Day – an annual celebration of Irish heritage – takes place on 23 January.

It will be marked by the launch of exciting new record sets, as well as webinars, guides and advice, information on the records and exclusive offers to access Findmypast’s extensive Irish record collection.

Webinar

As part of Irish Family History Day, Findmypast will be running an online webinar and Q&A session hosted by Irish family history expert, Brian Donovan. The webinar will cover getting started with Irish family history, as well as hints and tips on getting further with your research.

The webinar will be held at 5pm GMT on 23 January. Brian will be on hand to answer questions after the webinar. For more information, and to register interest, visit http://bit.ly/irishlive.

About Findmypast

Findmypast has been a leading family history website for more than 10 years. It’s a searchable online archive of over 2 billion family history records, from parish records and censuses to migration records, military collections, historical newspapers and lots more. For our members around the world, Findmypast is a crucial resource for building family trees and doing detailed historical research.

In April 2003 the company was the first to provide access to the complete birth, marriage, and death indexes for England & Wales, winning the Queen’s Award for Innovation. Since that time, Findmypast has digitized family history records from across the globe, including major collections from Britain, Ireland, Australia, and the United States. In partnership with the British Library, Findmypast is part of a project to safeguard the future of the world’s greatest newspaper archive – allowing digital access to more than 40 million newspaper pages. Recently, The National Archives awarded the company the exclusive rights to put the 1939 Register for England and Wales online.

For more information please contact press@dctfh.com

About The National Archives

For the record, for good…The National Archives is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). As the official archive of the UK government and England and Wales, we look after and make available to the public a collection of historical records dating back over 1,000 years, including records as diverse as Domesday Book and MI5 files.

Our 21st-century role is to collect and secure the future of the record, both digital and physical, to preserve it for generations to come, and to make it as accessible as possible. We do this by devising technological solutions to ensure the long-term survival of public records and working to widen access to our collection. The National Archives also advises on information management across government, publishes all UK legislation, manages Crown copyright and leads the archive sector. We work to promote and improve access to public sector information and its re-use. www.nationalarchives.gov.uk www.legislation.gov.uk