Friday, May 2, 2008

FamilySearch Teams with

News Release from FamilySearch:
FamilySearch Teams with to Increase Online Access to British Historical Records

Retired servicemen and merchant seamen records are first projects

SALT LAKE CITY-FamilySearch announced today it is working with the UK family history Web site and The National Archives of the United Kingdom to increase access to select British historical records. The first major projects will provide access to millions of names of deceased British soldiers and seamen from eighteenth to twentieth century. and FamilySearch were recently awarded licenses by The National Archives to digitize and make available both the Chelsea Pensioners retired soldiers records between 1760 and 1914, and the Merchant Seamen's collection of records dating from 1835 to 1941.

Chelsea Pensioners and Militia Records

The three-year project will digitize and index nine million images from the War Office's Royal Hospital Chelsea Soldiers' Service documents dating from 1760 and Militia Attestation Papers documents from 1870, through to 1913.

The records truly bring to life the comings and goings of pensioners (patients) in the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including each ex-serviceman's name, age, birthplace and service history, as well as details of physical appearance, conduct sheet, previous occupation, and in some cases the reason for discharge. After 1883, details of marriages and children may also appear.

Merchant Seamen Records

The Board of Trade's merchant seamen records from the periods 1835 to 1844 and 1918 to 1941 will also be digitized and indexed. When the project is complete, the public will be able to easily search online for the names and date and place of birth of ancestors who served as merchant seamen.

Many of the twentieth century records include portrait photographs of the sailors as well as personal details and summaries of their voyages. The records include people of many nationalities and women's service records.

Nearly a third of UK families have ancestors who served as a merchant seaman, and many Americans have British roots, making this series of records extremely important to genealogists and family historians.

Digitization partnership

FamilySearch will digitize the records on site at The National Archives, and will create indexes and transcriptions to enable online patrons to easily search the records and images at both and

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at said, "This is great news for anyone who has hit a brick wall in their family history research. Servicemen and merchant seamen played a hugely important role in the United Kingdom's military, economic and social history. The details included in these two sets of records will open up a wealth of new information about their lives to family history enthusiasts and military historians alike."

Ransom Love, director of Strategic Relationships for FamilySearch, added, "FamilySearch is working with cultural institutions like The National Archives [of the United Kingdom] and genealogy-related companies like to preserve and provide access to genealogical records faster, more effectively, and more efficiently. We are excited to begin the Chelsea and Merchant Seaman projects with and The National Archives and look forward to more exciting initiatives together in the near future."

Dan Jones, Head of Business Development at The National Archives, said, "Being able to add these popular records to the growing list of The National Archives' resources available digitally is yet more evidence of the importance and effectiveness of forming partnerships across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. We are very pleased to be able to announce the start of these two exciting projects and the continuation of The National Archives' strong relationship with and FamilySearch."

FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.


Leading UK family history website (formerly was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales available online in April 2003.

Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today.

Findmypast has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 500 million records dating as far back as 1538. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage, and death records.

In November 2006, Findmypast launched the microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.

As well as providing access to historical records, Findmypast is also developing a range of online tools to help people discover and share their family history more easily, beginning with the launch of Family Tree Explorer in July 2007.

Over 1.7 million people in the UK have researched their family trees, and has over 800,000 active registered users, revealing the mass appeal of genealogy and's position as the leading family history Web site based in the UK.

In April 2007, Findmypast's then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement. was acquired in December 2007, by Scotland Online, the company who were awarded the The National Archives' tender to publish online the 1911 census.

About The National Archives

The National Archives,, is a government department; and also an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The National Archives brings together the Public Record Office, Historical Manuscripts Commission, the Office of Public Sector Information and Her Majesty's Stationery Office. See also

The National Archives is at the heart of information policy-setting standards and supporting innovation in information and records management across the UK, and providing a practical framework of best practice for opening up and encouraging the re-use of public sector information. This work helps inform today's decisions and ensure that they become tomorrow's permanent record.

The National Archives is also the UK government's official archive, containing 900 years of history from Domesday Book to the present, with records ranging from parchment and paper scrolls through to recently-created digital files and archived websites. Increasingly, these records are being put online, making them universally accessible.

The vision of The National Archives is to:

* Lead and transform information management
* Guarantee the survival of today's information for tomorrow
* Bring history to life for everyone

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