Dublin City Databases
Three new databases have been added to Dublin City's online collection. The databases were formally launched at a function in the Dublin City Library and Archive in Pearse St. last evening (26/8/2015).
The function was kicked off by the effervescent Brendan Teeling, Dublin City's Deputy Librarian. He set the context and promptly handed over to John Grenham who introduced us to the first database.
This was effectively an extension to work John had been doing over the last few years on digitising the city's electoral registers. The first phase covered the period 1938 to 1963. That digitised database had been available in the library itself for a few years but it has recently come on line.
I have made extensive use of it in my family history research. It proved a particularly useful complement to the long series of Thom's Street Directories. You could find someone's address on a birth, death or marriage cert, and chase them up in Thoms. But if they then changed house you were lost. Once the electoral register was digitised you could easily pick them up again along with supplementary information on family members.
However this database only covered the period 1938 to 1964. The new database covers the period 1908 to 1915 and it is a very useful complement to the 1901 and 1911 Censuses of Population which are already online. John took us through some of its more arcane features.
I could never understand, for instance, why Theodore Brewster's son was paying him rent for staying in the family home. Theodore was not short the penny or two and son Richard could simply have handed up some of his earnings, as we all did, without turning it into a formal rent payment. What I had not realised, and what John explained, was that a lodger qualified for a vote in municipal elections so Theodore and Richard contrived to have a two vote rather than a one vote household. Useful when you're trying to influence the local council.
Ellen took us through the process that led to the digisation and release online of the indexes to the Dublin City Council minutes. This may seem a small thing to some if you still have to consult the hard copy versions of the actual minutes.
I can vouch for it that it is an invaluable improvement from a researcher's point of view. The library had noticed lots of researchers coming in day after day ploughing through the indexes trying to find relevant items which they then had to look up in the main volumes. Now the indexes can be searched digitally, from home if necessary, and precious library time can be devoted to a very focused search of the actual minutes.
I've been there and done that the hard way and this database is a godsend for anyone who needs to consult the minutes.
The city is blessed with having Mary Clarke as its archivist.
At this session she explained how a number of different and inaccessible record collections had been "translated" and digitised into one general directory covering the period 1607 to 1746.
She told us that with the advent of wider literacy the demand for Secretaries was set to fall until the existing Secretaries devised a sort of shorthand which only they could read and so kept their jobs as gatekeepers of the records.
She also drew our attention to some of the water supply accounts of the period where those falling into serious arrears in paying for their water were simply cut off.
John McDonough gave us an example of inter-institutional cooperation when he revealed that there were gaps in the electoral registers held by the library and that these had been filled by the National Archives providing digitised copies of the missing volumes to complete the library's online database.
John very much made the point that the various institutions involved in keeping and providing access to archives were all in the same business of serving the same public. And the thing is that it is not business from the public's end as all these digitised online databases are provided to users free of charge at the point of use.
Councillor Vincent Jackson formally launched the databases but not before eulogising, and rightly so, the city's library services.
The libraries are an integral part of a valuable and much needed and underrated social sub-structure and the miracle is that not only have they managed to continue providing their services free at the point of use, they have succeeded in vastly expanding these services over the years.
In this particular case they have been helped by funding from the Council's Commemorations Committee. It's nice to see something positive coming out of 1916.
You can find the Council's databases at this page. You can either search across the full set of databases with a simple search which will tell you how many relevant entries come up in each data base and you can then go straight in and look at these. Or you can do an advanced search (ie specifying more search variables) on each database individually. There is enough stuff there to keep you occupied until you eventually take your rightful place in the graveyards database.
The Council have also put up a special page on their site covering the launch and the databases.