2.5 Million Criminal Records to be Published Online: Find Villans or Victims Lurking in Your Family History

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The biggest collection of historical criminal records from England and Wales is being published online for the first time by leading family history site www.findmypast.ie in association with The UK National Archives.

Over 2.5 million records dating from 1770-1934 will be easily searchable and provide a wide variety of colour, detail and fascinating social history, chronicling the fate of criminals ranging from fraudsters, counterfeiters, thieves and murderers and their victims.

They contain mugshots, court documents, appeal letters, examples of early Edwardian ‘ASBOs’- where habitual drunks were banned from pubs and entertainment venues –and registers from the prison ‘hulk’ ships, which were used when mainland prisons were overcrowded. One such hulk, the ‘Dolphin’, housed 6,000 prisoners between 1829 and 1835.

There are details of Victorian serial killers including Amelia Dyer, who, between 1880 and 1896, is believed to have murdered 400 babies by strangling them with ribbon and dumping them in the Thames. She was hanged at Newgate Prison in 1896 aged 57.

Another particularly gruesome murderer who appears in the Crime, Prisons and Punishment records is Catherine Webster, who killed widow Julia Martha Thomas, 55. She pushed her down the stairs, then strangled her, chopped up her body and boiled it. Julia’s head was found in David Attenborough’s garden in 2010.

Cliona Weldon, General Manager at findmypast.ie, said: “These records provide anyone with roots in the UK an amazing chance to trace criminals and their victims in their family. They feature incredible descriptions of criminals’ appearances, demeanour and identifying marks, giving you a real insight to who each person was. The British newspaper articles also available on findmypast.ie show how the crimes were reported in the press of the day – which supplements the criminal records and makes searching through them as enjoyable as it is easy, as you cross-reference one against the other”

Paul Carter, Principle Modern Domestic records specialist at The UK National Archives added: “These records span several government series and show the evolution of the criminal justice system in the nineteenth century as the country dealt with the impact of industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth.

“They record the intimate details of hundreds of thousands of people, beginning with judges’ recommendations for or against pardons, to petitions through which criminals and their families could offer mitigating circumstances and grounds for mercy, and later, licences containing everything from previous convictions to the state of a prisoner’s health.

“As well as the Georgian highway robber, the Victorian murderer and the Edwardian thief, the courts often dealt with the rural poacher, the unemployed petty food thief or the early trade unionist or Chartist. The records are a fascinating source for family, local and social historians.”

The information in the records comes from a variety of UK Government departments including the Home Office, Prison Commission, Metropolitan Police, Central Criminal Court and the Admiralty. The records from 1817-1931 will be published first followed by the period 1770-1934 in the coming months.

The Crime, Prisons and Punishment records are available on findmypast.ie as part of a Britain & Ireland or a World subscription. They are also available online at findmypast.co.uk, findmypast.com and findmypast.com.au.

New Course Offered by National Institute for Genealogical Studies

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies has release the following information on a new course that they are offering starting on March 4th.

7 February 2013 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada – The National Institute for Genealogical Studies has a new course, Creating Genealogy Programs for Adults & the Younger Generation. This excellent course was written by Jennifer Holik who has authored a number of books about developing genealogy programs for children and societies/libraries. The first course start date is Monday, March 4, 2013 and will be offered every three months. It is six modules in length.

The course description is:

Engaging adults in genealogy has typically been a task for genealogical societies rather than libraries. Today however, many libraries are creating adult genealogy groups and programs. Attendance for these programs is easier to obtain than perhaps a youth program in genealogy. But, these libraries are also looking for ways to engage the youth in genealogy. The problem lies in how to capture their interest and create a program that will convey the basics of research in a way that is both meaningful and engaging.

This course provides an example of creating an adult genealogy program first, as a way to lay the foundation for a youth program. It follows with examples of youth programs for those in grades one through twelve. The examples are laid out into one hour, one and a half-hour, half-day, and full-day workshops and cover the basics of research while also incorporating social and local history. The final result is a rich and useful youth genealogy program. Requirements and suggestions on assisting youth who are earning Scout-type badges follows and finally, you will take the youth workshop beyond the classroom. You will learn ways to continue your own education, create and provide additional resources for your library, and connect with others.

NOTE: Although this course is written with the librarian in mind, it is also suitable for the society organizer, archivist, professional genealogist, or teacher.

You can sign up for the course and order printed materials on the National Institute for Genealogical Studies website.

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