Wednesday, 3 September 2008

500 years of London history to launch online – 77 million names

The following is a press release from Ancestry.ca

London, UK 4 September, 2008 The most comprehensive collection of historical London records, covering 500 years of the city’s history, is to be made available online for the first time. Following a lengthy tendering process, Ancestry[i] has secured the exclusive online rights to digitize and host key records from London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) and Guildhall Library Manuscripts.

LMA’s historical record collection, which is owned and managed by the City of London, is considered to be of international importance, particularly given London’s prominence at the centre of the British Empire for almost 300 years from the mid-1700s.

As the City of London’s official partner, Ancestry, which has a global network of nine family history websites, will be responsible for providing access to The LMA Collection. Original record images and more than 77 million names searchable using key information such as name, date and place, will be available on Ancestry.ca, Canada’s No.1 family and social history website.

Dating from the early 16th Century through to 2006, the collection details the lives of both princes and paupers. Included are parish records, school records, electoral registers, wills, lists of workhouse labourers from the Poor Law ledgers and a comprehensive list of those granted ‘Freedom of the City’ .

Ancestry.ca spokesperson Karen Peterson comments: “This collection is particularly exciting for the family history research industry because it breaks what we call the ‘1837 barrier’, which is the year official record keeping began.”

“Again, advances in technology will enable so many people, who previously were not able to physically find and search through these rare records, the ability to do so with ease.”

The collection will take several years to index and image. Until now, those wishing to view records have had to visit LMA or the Guildhall Library, both based in Central London.

Online access to LMA records has long been anticipated by family history enthusiasts around the world: it will allow millions of people with ancestors who lived in or passed through London at some point in time to trace their roots, whether it be to the City’s slums or its more affluent boroughs.

The first records will launch on Ancestry.ca in early 2009, with the following prioritised for launch in the coming year:

· Parish records – records from more than 10,000 Greater London parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials dating from the 1530s to the 20th Century

· Poor Law documents - relating to the administration of poor relief, including workhouse registers from 1834 onwards

· London school admissions – records from 843 individual London schools dating from the early Victorian times through to 1911, providing admission and personal details for millions of London students

Dr Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Director of the City of London’s Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Library, comments: “It has always been the City of London’s goal to make these important collections available to the wider public through digitisation and so we are delighted to announce Ancestry as our official partner in bringing 500 years of London’s history online.”

The records will be available to Ancestry’s World Deluxe Members. Many Canadian genealogical societies and local libraries will also have access to the records through their organisational membership.

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