18 March 2011

UK: British Library, FindMyPast to digitize 5 million pages

The British Library and findmypast.co.uk will digitize 5 million pages of family history records.

For the first time, India Office Records and 100 years of electoral registers will be online and fully searchable.

The British Library holds the national collection of electoral registers covering the whole UK. These registers offer a huge number of names, addresses and other genealogical information.

"Digitisation of the electoral registers will transform the work of people wishing to use them for family history research," said Jennie Grimshaw, the Library's curator for Social Policy and Official Publications. "Printed electoral registers are arranged by polling district within constituency and names are not indexed, so the process of finding an address to confirm names of residents is currently incredibly laborious. Digitisation represents a huge breakthrough as users will be able to search for names and addresses, thereby pinpointing the individuals and ancestors they're looking for."

The project will involve the scanning of UK electoral registers covering the century that followed the Reform Act of 1832, along with records of baptisms, marriages and burials drawn from the archives of the India Office. When available online, these collections will enable historians, genealogists and family history researchers to make connections and track down details of ancestors and others at the click of a mouse - work that would previously have necessitated visits to the Library's Reading Rooms and many hours of laborious manual searching.
Also included are holdings from the East India Company archives and the India Office. These 18th, 19th and 20th century records offer information on Britons living and working in the Indian sub-continent up to the 1948 independence. There are more than 1,000 volumes of ecclesiastical returns of births, marriages and burials; applications for civil and military service; and pension payment details.

The resources will be available online at findmypast.co.uk and in the Library's Reading Rooms from early 2012. Online requires a subscription or pay-as-you-go. Library access will be free and it will receive copies of the digitized images of this project.

For more information, click here.

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