Limerick city in Ireland has decided to open up archived material collected from the Famine era right up until 1972. The Irish city has created an online digital catalogue of its records. The digitized collections are freely available to the public to promote research into the history of Limerick City and allow the public to access original documents in a virtual archive. This is believed to be the first project of its kind in Ireland.
The first material to be available online will be the Minute Books of Limerick City Council, spanning from 1841 -1972. The minutes contain a wealth of detail on the development of Limerick City, its people and local politics. From 1923 the minute books are typed, which facilitates Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to capture the words, allowing full text keyword searching. Records prior to 1923 will need to be searched manually, a rather painstaking method.
This is the pilot phase of Limerick City Council’s Archive Digitisation project, aimed at expanding access to our archive holdings. A selection of collections from Limerick City Council’s own records as well as private papers acquired by the City Archives have been scanned in color. Some material previously captured in microfilm has also been included.
With Limerick City bringing all this material online, members of the public will now be able to find out for themselves, from first-hand accounts from the time periods, what life was like in Limerick in the past. This makes for a welcome change from having to apply for an appointment with an archivist to view documents, opening up a new research avenue for college and secondary school students alike.
“A key feature of the portal site is that it offers an open source, standards-based archives platform, using a web language called Encoded Archival Description (EAD), which enables the files to be shared with other archives in Ireland and internationally,” said Jacqui Hayes, Limerick City archivist.
Please keep in mind that this is a "project in progress." That is, some of the records are available now, but many more will be added in future months. If you do not find what you want right now, you probably will want to try again in a few months.
For more information, visit http://www.limerickcity.ie/Archives.