Newspapers Online

Local newspapers are a valuable source for any family historian, but as any genealogist will   know, sitting at a microfilm reader scrolling through page after page of grainy images to search for relevant information is a long and arduous process.

The British Library have therefore been working for a couple of years on digitising their collections of local newspapers, undertaking OCR (character recognition) and releasing fully searchable copies on to a specially designed website

British Newspaper Archive

For a relatively small monthly subscription (£12.95), you get complete access to more than 700 titles, and nearly 18 million pages, this increases each week as more scanning is completed.

Through this project you can read how newspapers across the county reported on key events from the past 200 years, and can also track down ancestors (particularly if they have had a suitably notorious past to catch the attention of the press).



Catholic History Walks in London

Organised by Catholic History Walks, two Springtime riverside walks along the Thames will be organised in March, starting from the Church of the Most Precious Blood at London Bridge, which is in the care of the Ordinariate. The Walks are on Sunday afternoons, and all are welcome. There is no need to book – just […]

via Catholic History Walks, London, 2017 — English Catholic History Association

Digitising Newman

The project to digitise and catalogue onto an online hub the entire personal archive of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman is now underway.

Every single letter and diary has been meticulously scanned at John Rylands’ Library, Manchester, and an internet kiosk has been designed by software company Crivella West Inc. of Pittsburgh.

The kiosk project is the first of its kind and when completed will provide complete online access to the Newman collection. It is hoped that it might lead the way to other projects particularly within the world of Catholic archives.

The projectimg_4441 is a collaborative effort between the National Institute of Newman Studies, attached to the Pittsburgh Oratory in America, and the Birmingham Oratory where the archives are held.

The Newman Institute is a purpose built residential research library and centre providing previously unprecedented
access to Newman’s life and works, the Institute also fosters the advancement of Newman scholarly research by inviting scholars to utilise the resources of the Newman Research Library in order to pursue academic work specifically related to Newman Studies, and in partnership with Duqesne University has set up scholarship programmes to this end.

To keep up to date with progress, follow the Newman Institute on Twitter @NewmanStudies

Or visit their website




2017 Seminar

2017 Seminar on Records with launch of names database

This Society is planning the launch of a major new electronic database with a paper delivered by Br. Rory G Higgins FSC of Australia at a seminar on Saturday 7 October 2017 in the Conference Rooms, 24 Tufton Street London SW1P 3RB 10am-4pm.

An Index to the Names and Details of over
250,000 Catholics and their Friends in England 1680 – 1840

Rory Higgins has spent many years compiling this work with support from the Catholic Family History Society, his Superiors and others. The database will be a hugely valuable resource for church, social, political, local and family historians, both in England and around the world. On it are men, women and children from all walks of life, including priests and foreigners living in England. Where available there are details of age, of occupation and of location. References guide the user to the many sources which he has trawled, both original and printed, in order to collect the information together into this database. His earlier successful database is the Australian Nuns Index. Individuals and representatives of organisations involved in records and archives, as well as historians of all interests, will find his latest database to be the research tool everyone has been waiting for.

We hope you will not miss this opportunity to be amongst the first to explore the potential of this new resource. To express your interest and reserve a place contact: Places are being snapped up!

The period 1680-1840 covers the centuries when Catholicism was effectively outlawed. Records of Catholics are scattered in civil record offices, in Catholic and in Anglican Church archives throughout the country. We are pleased to have William D. Shannon, PhD, to speak on his research in in this era under the title:

Using the Records of the Forfeited Estates Commission (1715-1724) at TNA
to reconstruct Catholic Lancashire before and after the First Jacobite Rebellion.

Dr Shannon has delved into the fate of the Catholics involved in the 1715 Battle of Preston, not just those executed, imprisoned or exiled, but also those less directly involved.

Philip Gale will arrange a presentation on the development of The National Archives finding aid Discovery, with particular reference to Catholic records.

A Catholic Family History Society Seminar – Update

Preliminary programme

A Catholic Family History Society Seminar, followed by the AGM.

Saturday 7 October 2017 10.00- 16.00

at the Conference Rooms, 24 Tufton Street London, SW1P 3RB

Rory Higgins FSC from Australia will deliver a paper to introduce and explain the background to his latest database:
The Margaret Higgins Index and Details of 250, 000 English Catholics and their Friends 1680-1840.

William. D. Shannon will also be speaking.

Using the Records of the Forfeited Estates Commission (1715 – 1724) at TNA to reconstruct Catholic Lancashire before and after the First Jacobite Rebellion

It has taken him many years to compile and will be a major new resource for all historians interested in English Catholic history.

More details will follow.
To express an interest in attending, contact

The Destruction of the Irish Record Office

For many people researching their Irish genealogy, the destruction of the Dublin record office in 1922 during the civil war, has left huge gaping holes in what information is actually available.

The Public Record Office of Ireland, at Four Courts, Dublin had in fact been occupied Image Ref. No. 0507/060during the Easter Rising, however remarkably no serious damage had been done to the archives, famously the only record had actually been destroyed, that being the 19th century will of an Irish soldier. However six years later, on the 3rd June 1922, the record office was blown up, with one enormous explosive device.

Eye witnesses recall that on that day, it literally rained archives in Dublin city. The smouldering remains of a thousand years of history, held in parish registers, census records, wills, court records, minute books, proclamations, etc. were scattering the streets. Some were retrieved and rescued, some handed in to the authorities, and other kept by private individuals.

The 1922 explosion and subsequent fire destroyed the national census records from 1821-1851, half the parochial registers of the Church of Ireland (Catholic registers were stored elsewhere), all pre 1900 court and government records, and centuries of wills, the irreplaceable loss will always hamper the efforts of individuals attempting to trace their Irish ancestry, however we should pay tribute to the Irish Genealogical Research Society  formed in 1936, when its members set about attempting to find surviving records, rescued, but still held in private hands. Through their efforts much material was repatriated into the National Archives, and thanks to their tireless efforts, records previously thought lost have now been preserved for the future. Their website linked above, is always a good start for anybody wanting to find out more about their Irish ancestors.