HUNDREDS of thousands of records chronicling the social history of North Yorkshire are to be made available to a worldwide audience on the internet.
North Yorkshire County Council is one of the founding members of the Yorkshire Digitisation Consortium – a partnership of authorities which has pledged to make its parish records available online.
Once the project is under way, millions of family and parish records from across Yorkshire will be viewable by people researching their family histories.
Keith Sweetmore, archives development manager at the County Record Office, said: “People come from all over the world to trace family records in North Yorkshire – now it will be much easier for people to trace ancestry all the way back to the sixteenth century.”
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe said: “We are proud and excited to be supporting this initiative through our County Records Office, whose task will now be to convert the microfilm of the parish registers into digital copies, ready for uploading.”
It is thought the digitisation process could take 18 months to two years, after which the parish records will be available at a Yorkshire section of www.findmypast.co.uk.
Mr Sweetmore added: “It will be quite an undertaking and I’m sure we will need a lot of volunteers to help get it done.
“We don’t think digitisation will replace the need for people to visit the records office because the parish records are just the tip of the iceberg - we have 10 miles of shelving with records going back 800 years.”
Entries in the parish records of North Yorkshire include: Eleanor Hill of Sessay, unmarried aged 20 years. Died of a profligate life (burial, Sessay, 1804); Ellen; no other name known – born of some foolish girl of Baldersby (christening, Topcliffe, 1579); Thos, son of Thos Lee. Died with drinking gin, aged 13 (burial, Thirsk, 1789); Thos Hill, son of Edward Hill, who was infected by the dogma of those commonly called Quakers, (christening, Kilburn, 1702).
A Family History Day will be held at Harrogate Pavilions on Saturday, March 16, featuring experts in research and a range of archaeology and history organisations.
Entry is £2, for more information visit http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6269.