Irish Roots

August 29th, 2011

John Grenham


I wrote last February about the increasing number of books relating to Irish genealogy now freely available and searchable online. That column seems to have borne fruit. A reader, Peter John Clarke, was frustrated at the absence of a systematic guide to these books and recently wrote to me that he had set about creating such a guide and putting it online. You can find it now at http://freeirishgenebooks.blogspot.com. It is a revelation. So far, Peter has found more than 400 books that are free and complete. The sources he uses include the usual ones - Google Books, the Internet Archive and the Open Library Project - but a significant number of works are available via an organisation I did not know of, the Hathi Trust, a community of North American research libraries whose goal, in its own words, is "to contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge."

The variety of books on the list is extraordinary, ranging from familiar works of local history, such as Frost's History [...] of Clare and Smith's Ancient and present state of the County and City of Cork, to basic sources such as the Marriage Licence Bonds of Cork and Ross, and Gilbert's Calendar of the Ancient Records of Dublin, along with dozens of rare, privately printed family histories, up to now almost impossible to find. The listing gives a glimpse of an almost unimaginable future, where everything ever recorded might be instantly available to everyone. What might have been a wishful daydream a decade ago now seems very possible, and just a little frightening.

Peter seems to consider what he has done as part of the tradition of bee-in-the-bonnet amateurs that fuels Irish research. Amateur schmateur. What he has done (and I hope will continue to do) is of the highest value.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.

Current column

2014

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
6
3
3
7
5
2
7
4
1
6
13
10
10
14
12
9
14
11
8
13
20
17
17
21
19
16
21
18
15
20
27
24
24
28
26
23
28
25
22
 
 
31
 
 
30
 
 
29


2013

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
7
4
4
1
6
3
1
5
2
7
4
2
14
11
11
8
13
10
8
12
9
14
11
9
21
18
18
15
20
17
15
19
16
21
18
16
28
25
25
22
27
 
22
26
23
28
25
23
 
 
 
29
 
 
29
 
30

 
30


2012

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2
6
5
2
7
4
2
6
3
1
5
3
9
13
12
9
14
11
9
13
10
8
12
10
16
20
19
16
21
18
16
20
17
15
19
17
23
27
26
23
28
25
23
27
24
22
26
24
30
 
 
30
 
 
30
 
 
29
 
31


2011

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
3
7
7
4
2
6
4
1
5
3
7
5
10
14
14
11
9
13
11
8
12
10
14
12
17
21
21
18
16
20
18
15
19
17
21
19
24
28
28
25
23
27
25
22
26
24
28
26
31
 
 
 
30
 
 
29
 
31
 
 


2010

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
4
1
1
5
3
7
5
2
6
4
1
6
11
8
8
12
10
14
12
9
13
11
8
13
18
15
15
19
17
21
19
16
20
18
15
20
25
22
22
26
25
28
26
23
27
25
22
27
 
 
 
 
31
 
 
30
 
 
29
 


2009

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
6
2
2
6
4
1
6
3
7
5
2
7
13
9
9
13
11
8
13
10
14
12
9
14
20
16
16
20
18
15
20
17
21
19
16
21
27
23
23
27
25
22
27
24
28
26
23
28
 
 
 
 
 
29
 
31
 
 
30