The most comprehensive collection of historical London records, covering 500 years of the cityâ€™s history, is to be made available online for the first time. Following a lengthy tendering process, Ancestry has secured the exclusive online rights to digitize and host key records from London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) and Guildhall Library Manuscripts.
LMAâ€™s historical record collection, which is owned and managed by the City of London, is considered to be of international importance, particularly given Londonâ€™s prominence at the centre of the British Empire for almost 300 years from the mid-1700s.
As the City of Londonâ€™s official partner, Ancestry will be responsible for providing global access to The LMA Collection. Original images of all historical records will be available on Ancestry.co.uk, the UKâ€™s leading family and social history website, and more than 77 million names searchable using key information such as name, date and place.
Dating from the early 16th Century through to 2006, the collection details the lives of both princes and paupers. Included are parish records, school records, electoral registers, wills, lists of workhouse labourers from the Poor Law ledgers and a comprehensive list of those granted â€˜Freedom of the Cityâ€™.
The collection will take several years to index and image. Until now, those wishing to view records have had to visit LMA or the Guildhall Library, both based in Central London. Collection records have featured on Who do you think you are? episodes about the family historiesâ€™ of Patsy Kensit, Barbara Windsor and Stephen Fry.
Online access to LMA records has long been anticipated by family history enthusiasts in the UK and internationally: it will allow millions of people with ancestors who lived in or passed through London at some point in time to trace their roots, whether it be to the Cityâ€™s slums or its more affluent boroughs.
The first records will launch on Ancestry.co.uk in early 2009, with the following prioritised for launch in the coming year:
Parish records â€“ records from more than 10,000 Greater London parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials dating from the 1530s to the 20th Century
Poor Law documents – relating to the administration of poor relief, including workhouse registers from 1834 onwards
London school admissions â€“ records from 843 individual London schools dating from the early Victorian times through to 1911, providing admission and personal details for millions of London students
Josh Hanna, Senior Vice President of Ancestry, International comments: â€œAncestry is thrilled to be selected as the City of Londonâ€™s official partner in hosting The LMA Collection, especially as these records have such broad appeal and significance to so many around the world.
â€œIn advance of participating in the tender process, we asked our members in the UK and elsewhere what they wanted and their overwhelming response was for the LMA records – even more so than for the 20th Century censuses.â€
Dr Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Director of the City of Londonâ€™s Department of Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Library, comments: â€œIt has always been the City of Londonâ€™s goal to make these important collections available to the wider public through digitisation and so we are delighted to announce Ancestry as our official partner in bringing 500 years of Londonâ€™s history online.â€