Free access to Find My Past from home
Published on 17th February 2021
This week we are announcing some very exciting genealogical news so a small diversion from Researching Your Family History during Lockdown. The Reading Room of Dublin City Library and Archive has made Find My Past website available for free to Dublin City Libraries’ members.
Previously you could only access this subscription-based site in the Reading Room in Pearse Street Library. But while we are closed during lock-down, you can search for your ancestors from the comfort of your own home.
The Find My Past website offers a wide variety of sources that are not available online elsewhere. It would be impossible to list all the sources in this blog, therefore I will highlight a sample of those available. Before you start to search be sure to download from the site the Must-Have Guide to find your British and Irish ancestors, it’s full of hints and tips to get you started.
A source I found particularly useful was the 1939 Register for England and Wales. This register was taken on the eve of the Second World War. It contains the personal information of forty one million civilians in England and Wales. It records the names, addresses, ages and occupations of all the inhabitants of a household. It is similar to a census return but with the added advantage of the person’s full date of birth not just the age. This register is excellent if you are trying to trace ancestors who settled in England or Wales, especially because the 1931 census was destroyed and no census was taken in 1941 due to the war. The 1939 register also shows maps and photographs of the areas where your ancestors lived.
If you think there may have been a black sheep in the family you might like to check out the Criminal Records which include Irish Prison Registers from 1790-1924 and Ireland Petty Sessions Court Registers. These records can really bring your ancestors to life, many contain physical descriptions i.e. height, complexion, eye colour and even distinguishing marks such as tattoos. Court settlements, next of kin and sometimes even mugshots are also recorded in these prison registers. British crime, prison and punishment can also be researched on this site.
If your ancestors had fallen on hard times and needed some help to survive then you might like to take a look at the Dublin Workhouses Admission & Discharge Registers. These records cover almost 80 years and have more than 1,500,000 records. They can be distressful to read but they give an insight into how your ancestors came to be in the workhouse. The records are very detailed, giving name, previous address, condition when entering and leaving the workhouse. The workhouses covered by Find My Past are the North Dublin Union, The South Dublin Union and Rathdown.
You need to have a DCL membership to use Find My Past. To access the site for free, please email your name and library card number to: [email protected] and we will get back to you with the login details.
Please note that it is not possible to start or update family trees on this library account, if you want to do that you need to take out your own subscription to Find My Past.
In addition there is a limit on the number of records that can be searched each month due to a fair usage policy.
Example of 1939 register for Carmarthen, South Wales. Showing full dates of birth.