f you have ever looked at an old document and been unable to read the old script then you may be interested in a fascinating post on The National Archive’s blog about software that is being developed to read old handwritten documents.
A 1496 Prerogative Court of Canterbury Will from TNA retrieved from TheGenealogist’s online collection of Will documents
The National Archives (TNA) points out the revolution that optical character recognition (OCR) technology has made reading printed words written in books, newspapers and some archival documents. But OCR does not work on handwritten documents. It is for this reason that TNA say that they are excited by the new platform called Transkribus, developed by the EU funded READ Project. It will offer, for the first time, the potential to use computers to ‘read’ handwritten documents.
TheGenealogist has added Colour Tithe Maps from The National Archives to their National Tithe Records collection. With this release researchers can see the plots owned or occupied by ancestors that lived in this ‘home county’ at the time of the survey in the 19th century.
The new data includes:
Over 40,000 Plots of Land covering the years from 1837 to 1855 with some much later plans of altered apportionments
Joining the apportionment record books and the previously published greyscale maps
These tagged colour maps and their fully searchable tithe schedule records are from those held at The National Archives. The collection gives the family history researcher the ability to search by name and keyword (for example parish or county) to look for all levels of society from large estate owners to occupiers of tiny plots such as a cottage or a cowshed.
TheGenealogist has added 651,369 quarterly returns of convicts from The National Archives’ HO 8 documents to their Court & Criminal Records collection. With this release researchers can find the details of ancestors that broke the law and were incarcerated in convict hulks and prisons in the 19th century.
The new data includes:
651,369 Records covering the years 1824 to 1854
Quarterly returns from Convict Hulks, Convict Prisons and Criminal Lunatic Asylums
These fully searchable records are from the The Home Office: Sworn lists of convicts on board the convict hulks and in the convict prisons (HO 8). They give the family history researcher fascinating facts that include the particulars of age, convictions, sentences, health and behaviour of the convict, as well as which court sentenced them and where they were serving their sentence.
Read TheGenealogist’s article “Criminal records of convicts on the Hulks” at:
More funds are now available to archives for catalogue their holdings under a new scheme.
Archives Revealed, has been launched by The National Archives and The Pilgrim Trust and this will offer grants of up to £40,000 to create catalogues of archival collections. The deadline for applications is 12 January 2018.
In February 2018, scoping grants worth up to £3,000, which are provided to allow archives to conduct analysis of their future cataloguing priorities, will be opened up for applications.
TNA's website says that 'An archive without a catalogue is like a room without a door: there’s no way of finding out what is inside.' With this in mind the scheme builds on the success of the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives. Part of the revised funding criteria includes an assessment of the collection’s rarity, historical value, and research value to a variety of audience groups plus what need there is for it to be catalogued.
Jeff James, chief executive and keeper of The National Archives, said: “Along with The Pilgrim Trust we look forward to working with archives from across the country to support their efforts in cataloguing more of their rich and diverse collections and opening them up for all to use.”
The National Archives (TNA) has announced a talk by the author Stephan McGann
Taking place on Friday 24 November 2017 between 18:00 – 20:00 GMT.
Flesh and Blood will be of interest to family historians as it is the story of McGann’s family as told through seven maladies – diseases, wounds or ailments that have afflicted his relatives over the last 150 years. These, he believes, have helped to mould him into what he now perceives himself to be.
This early evening talk promises to be a great opportunity to hear Stephen, who you may know better as the actor that plays Dr Patrick Turner in the BBC's show Call the Midwife, talk about his latest book, inspired by his passion for genealogy with an academic interest in the social dimensions of medicine.
Stephen McGann has been an ambassador for Explore Your Archive since 2014.
The National Archives run an exciting range of events and exhibitions on a wide variety of topics. For more details, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/whatson.
Stephen McGann By Digsa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The National Archives has an interesting number of podcasts and webinars. Head over to: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
One that is being publicised at the moment is by Tracy Borman who reveals how the Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers, even in their most private moments. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed.
Dr Tracy Borman is a historian, author and joint Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces. Her books include the highly acclaimed ‘Elizabeth’s Women: the Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen’; ‘Matilda: Queen of the Conqueror’; and ‘Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction’. Her latest book is ‘The Private Lives of the Tudors’, published by Hodder & Stoughton.
The National Archives has revealed on it website that one of the earliest surviving public records – Domesday Book – is going to be loaned to Lincoln Castle as part of a major exhibition for 2017.
The iconic document that was commissioned in 1086 by William I, the Norman king best known as William the Conqueror, to give him an insight into his new realm by recording the taxable value and resources of all the boroughs and manors in England is to travel North. The document will be on loan to Lincoln Castle from its permanent home at The National Archives in Kew. It will be on display in the Magna Carta vault from 27 May to 3 September along with a number of local and national treasures showcased as part of the exhibition 'Battles and Dynasties'.
Read more on TNA's website:
This week (2 February 2016) The National Archives have launched a new record copying service, integrating the service into their online catalogue, Discovery, with revised costs and clearer guidance on how to order copies.
Record copying allows people to request digital or paper copies of TNA's records – an essential service for those unable to visit The National Archives in person, or for when records are not available to download.
Reviewing record copying
The record copying service is a two-stage process: people send TNA the details of a document that they want copied, and the staff at Kew find and check the document to see if copies can be made and how much they will cost. After this, researchers can decide if they wish to order the copies.
The National Archives said "During reviews of the service, we found that the system was unintuitive and that we received a high number of speculative requests which did not become record copying orders, as well as requests we could not fulfil. We wanted to improve the success rate of the first stage, as well as make the service more perceptive and easy-to-use."
The new process will be introducing a new first step which involves a paid-for page check, costing £8.24. This will cover TNA's staff resources for them to find the information that a person wants copied, and then to assess whether they can safely copy it. To offset this cost, they have revised their current fees structure, reducing the cost of both digital and paper copies. Documents up to A3 in size will now both cost £1.10 per copy; digital copies previously cost £3.50 and paper copies £1.30.
At the same time TNA say that they are also integrating the record copying service into their online catalogue Discovery, to make sure all requests provide a valid document reference number. Also they will be introducing new features so people can track their order as it progresses through the record copying service.
Find out more about the new record copying service.
The National Archives blog has announced the release of the latest batch of the MI5 files to view at TNA in Kew while a selection have been digitized.
They write that "As always they contain a fascinating new glimpse into the murky world of Second World War and Cold War espionage and provide extraordinary insights into some of the most famous of all spies."
The National Archives has launched a new online database that reveals data of immigration in medieval England as held in their records at TNA.
England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 is the outcome of a major Arts and Humanities Research Council funded research project that was undertaken by the University of York in collaboration with the Humanities Research Institute (University of Sheffield) and The National Archives.
For the first time the resulting database allows researchers to search over 65,000 immigrants who were resident in England during this period by name, nationality, profession and place of residence.
To find out more take a look at TNA’s blog post in which Dr Jessica Lutkin and Dr Laura Tompkins explore the database and medieval immigration in more detail.
On 9 April Dr Lutkin and Dr Jonathan Mackman will also be giving a talk on the project as part of the weekly talks programme.