Thursday, 10 September 2009

Ulster Street Directories 1819-1900 go online

Somebody asked me on a discussion forum recently why the NAI was able to place the 1911 census online for free. The answer, I suggested, was because God was Irish. The problem was that we Irish weren't quite aware what kind of Irish he was, hence all the bickering for so many years. As a Protestant northerner with a southern Catholic wife, I felt I had to concede with the the 1911 release that he must indeed have been a southerner all along. That kept my wife happy - until now!

Conclusive proof that God is in actual fact a Northerner after all arrived yesterday in the launch of the Ulster Street Directories 1819-1900 collection on the website of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. The following is noted on the PRONI website:

The street directories featured on this website consist of original volumes held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) covering the years 1819 to 1900. PRONI does not have copies of all street directories published before 1852. Even when the main run of the "Belfast and Ulster Street Directory" commences in 1852 there are gaps in the series up to 1900. These volumes, which were previously on open access in the Search Room in PRONI, were very heavily used and the paper in some of the volumes is very fragile. They were therefore at risk as pages or parts of pages had already been lost or damaged and further handling would have endangered their long term preservation. As such, it was decided to scan the directories and to provide a search facility which would enable users to find key words in a section of a directory, in a particular directory or in any directories.

List of directories scanned: (summarised)

•Bradhaw's General and Commercial Directory for 1819
•Belfast Directory 1831-32
•Matier's Belfast Directory 1835-36, 1839, 1841-42
•New Directory of the City of Londonderry and Coleraine, including Strabane with Lifford, Newtownlimavady, Portstewart and Portrush
•The New Commercial Directory of Armagh, Newry, Londonderry, Drogheda, Dundalk, Monaghan, Omagh, Strabane, Dungannon, Lisburn, Lurgan, Portadown and neighbouring towns

•Martin's Belfast Directory 1842-43
•Henderson's New Belfast and Northern Repository 1843-44
•Henderson's Belfast Directory and Northern Repository 1846-47, 1850
•The Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory 1852
•Henderson's Belfast Directory and Northern Repository 1852
•The Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory 1858-59 Volume 4, 1863-64 Volume 6, 1865, 1866, 1870, 1877, 1880, 1884, 1887, 1890 Volume 13, 1892, 1895 Volume 16, 1896, 1897, 1899 Volume 20, 1900

The records can be searched at

The brilliance of PRONI does not end there, however - the site is soon to add new databases to the Name Search application. This will be just an index, which will not link to digital record, but it will nevertheless add another 46,000 records (indexes) to the existing on-line application which already holds about 36,000 records.

Doubt does remain, however, on the Irishness of God. The NAI is soon to release the 1901 census also. I suspect that in actual fact God is a Jamaican. But let's not even think about conceding any of that, until every Irish record in every Irish archive is released!!!

(With thanks to the team at PRONI, on yet another excellent release))

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