Compiled by Christina Hunt
Altruism is the foundation on which today’s world of genealogy is built. Family history societies around the world were creating databases to share information freely before the Internet was heard of. The volunteer spirit is still alive, and there are great outlets for those wishing to contribute. Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives (IGPA) is a prime example. Christina Hunt, the IGPA manager, tells its story.
With some 40,000 transcribed and searchable headstone photos and many thousands of transcriptions from church registers, court, military, land and will records, obituary columns and other miscellaneous resources, Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives (IGPA) has come a long way in just five years.
The ‘archives’ evolved as a natural supplement to Ireland Genealogy Projects, our long-standing collection of ‘county’ websites, each of which provides in-depth advice on researching family history at the county level. Each county contains links, research addresses and photos, and some have a selection of transcriptions. IGP was led by the late Don Kelly for more than a decade.
Our ‘County’ webmasters and our archives ‘File Managers’ are all volunteers. At the county level I started out as webmaster for Co. Longford and Co. Tipperary. In the past, I put all kinds of transcriptions in my county projects. Since starting the IGP Archives, my main focus has been on the creation of a wellorganised repository. I think of it like a filing cabinet with the Counties as headings, and then the Subjects under each county.
In the IGP Archives, sharing is very much our ethos. Our view is that a lot of people have a lot of information in their possession. We want the IGPA to be a place where people, whether their families remained in Ireland or emigrated, can share publicly what they have with other family historians.
There are the usual categories that you would expect – birth, marriage and death records, cemeteries and newspapers – but we also have subjects that feature more heavily in Irish research such as Census Substitutes and Constabulary records.
All our records are submitted by family historians from around the globe, and apart from photos, they are presented in plain text which saves space and loading time. With technology changing so rapidly, we also hope plain text will be around for a long time. Text files are easier to copy and paste, which is useful when you want to save a record to your computer or into a genealogy programme or an email. We like to think that we are not just sharing, but helping to preserve information collected by avid Irish genealogists.
Spreadsheets have always served as a useful tool for pulling data out of a document such as a set of baptisms or marriages. Genealogists have already been doing this as they research their families. We convert it to plain text in columns, and upload it to the Archives.
For people who want to share, but have not already transcribed their documents, we have Submission Forms by Genrecords <www.genrecords.org/irfiles>. These forms were created by David Crosby for use in the USGenWeb Archives. The forms create a text file for us which speeds up the process.
Headstones are a growing category in IGPA and can be a treasure trove in Ireland, providing names of parents and/or siblings. Considering the lack of records in other areas, they can be a little genealogy set in stone.
While the rest of IGPA is text-based, the headstones section is image-based. We use a free programme called Picassa (a Google product), which can take a whole folder of photos and create a webpage from it, complete with a thumbnail of each photo.