Saturday, 14 September 2019

PRONI to release new digitised records online

Just back from Belfast, where I attended the latest stakeholder meeting at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland ( - and with some very exciting news!

For some time PRONI has been discussing making available through its online catalogue various digitised record sets. This already happens at the archive's search room in Belfast, where, for example, you can access various digitised church records collections (see

The plan now is to try to make several collections available for users to access from home in time for Explore Your Archive Week, towards the end of November. The collections being made available will include:

ED/1 National Education Commisioners Grant Aid Application ( 1832-1889)
From the PRONI catalogue:
In September 1831, the Commissioners of National Education were established to administer a fund of 30,000 per annum placed at the disposal of the Lord Lieutenant for the education of the poor in Ireland. They were empowered to make grants to local schools on condition that part of the required sum was raised locally and in addition they supervised the work of the schools, supplied textbooks and trained teachers. This class of records which bears the PRONI reference number ED/1, consists of 33 volumes of applications made to the Commissioners for grants for building schools, payment of teachers, provision of textbooks, equipment etc. The applications were made on printed questionnaire forms (occasionally accompanied by correspondence), which were filed and bound together in date order and arranged county by county. They cover the period 1832-1889. ED/1/1 to ED1/28, are available on microfilm and bear the reference number MIC/548, Reels 1 to 52. The National Archives in Dublin hold a few unbound applications from Counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh and Meath, as well as a volume of Rejected Applications from Ulster schools for the period 1868-72.

Tithe Applotment Books (Northern Ireland)
The books from the Republic are already available online at This collection from PRONI will not be presented in the same way, in that they will not be keyword searchable, but instead must be browsed by the relevant townland or parish (much more preferable, in that when browsing you can pick up on things that a keyword search may miss). They will be presented as large scale PDF documents, via a 'View digital object' button on the catalogue entries. PRONI will be adding to its site a how-to user guide to explain how to work through the collections. 

(NB: It is hoped these will be ready in time for the main launch, but they admit they are working to a tight deadline - nevertheless, if not ready by November, they are imminent)

Photo collections - various collections will be made available, including some gems such as circus photos, historic images from the Steeple estate in Antrim, and material from the Northern Ireland Photographic Association (formed 1967).

Hansard Papers - from the Northern Irish Assembly

Other news:

340 documents have been added to the Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN) covering the years 1991-1992. Plans are in place to add further records for 1993-94 over the next year.

State papers form 1995 have now been added to the site's catalogue. (535 fully open, 172 partially redacted, with 45 still closed to access).

I'll blog about forthcoming events on a separate thread.

But hey - the tithe records are coming online soon!

(With thanks to all at PRONI)


Order Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet (2nd ed) at My next Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the OPRs course starts 4 November 2019 - see Further news published daily on The GENES Blog Facebook page, and on Twitter @genesblog.

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