Exciting new records at findmypast.co.uk
Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk started life in April 2003, when it became the first company to publish online the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales going back to 1837, for which it received the Queen’s Award for Innovation. Since then, over 650 million records have been added to the website, allowing family historians worldwide to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, censuses, passenger lists, occupation directories and parish records. findmypast.co.uk is part of brightsolid, the company awarded the contract to digitise the 1911 census by The National Archives.
Spring 2009 has seen the addition of a host of exciting new records to findmypast.co.uk, including the county of Lancashire added to the 1851 and 1901 findmypast.co.uk censuses - a total of 6.1 million new census records. If you have been unable to find ancestors on these censuses elsewhere, then you may be able to find them in these new versions, which have been scanned and transcribed from scratch.
Unfilmed 1851 records online at findmypast.co.uk
Included within the 1851 records for Lancashire are the records for 180,000 individuals from the Manchester, Chorlton, Salford, Oldham and Ashton-Under-Lyne registration districts, previously never filmed and missing from all other versions of the 1851 census. These pages were severely water damaged many years ago by flooding, some so badly that no writing was visible and many were too fragile to be scanned.
Image of a water damaged page, courtesy of Ray Hulley, Co-ordinator of the 1851 unfilmed census project.
In 1991 a small team of London-based volunteers from the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society (MLFHS) began the painstaking process of transcribing the records, which were then held at the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane. As the documents were too fragile to withstand the glare of artificial light, the volunteers had to rely on natural daylight to read them.
Invisible text revealed
After The National Archives was established in Kew in 1997, the project was transferred there and with the expertise and support of their conservation department, the team made considerable advances in the recovery of the missing text. Using the latest ultraviolet equipment the team were able to see writing that had not been visible in natural daylight, and to re-examine documents that had already been transcribed to recover text invisible to the naked eye.
The transcribers followed a policy of ‘faithfulness to the original’ in accordance with best transcription practice, and words were only transcribed as far as they were legible – in many cases only parts of names or other details could be deciphered. In some cases street directories and rate books were used to confirm that names had been interpreted correctly, but the transcribers resisted the temptation to fill in information that they felt ‘should’ have been there.
The team then created reconstructions of the images following the same layout as the original, and, as with other census images, containing not just the information from the household, but the neighbouring houses as well.
Thanks to the statistical information that had been generated before the books were damaged, the transcription team knew that data from 217,717 individuals was missing. The team of volunteers from MLFHS, led by Ray Hulley, managed to retrieve 82 per cent of this data.
Start your search
All the new collections at findmypast.co.uk are free to search, and transcripts and images can be viewed either with PayAsYouGo credits or an Explorer subscription costing £89.95 for 12 months - the equivalent of just £7.50 a month.