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Next steps taken in digitisation of the Bailiwick's family history records

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Tuesday 28 February 2023

A group of organisations in the island which hold historical records are going out to tender for online family history companies to apply to digitise many of the Bailiwick's genealogical records.

It is hoped one of these businesses will make an offer to digitise the records, and other pieces of recorded family history stored in various archives, in order to make them available online.

The Priaulx Library, Island Archives, Church of England, La Société Guernesiaise and the Greffe have come together to form a steering group to drive the project forwards, with the hope it will make the Bailiwick's history more accessible to researchers around the world.

Family history and genealogical records lie at the heart of this work, with the focus being on birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial registers. Other important records for family history research will also be in scope, such as German Occupation identity registration forms housed at the Island Archives.

Steve Foote, Priaulx Library Chief Executive, said:

"We have now reached the next step on this exciting project and are awaiting the tender responses. We are hoping to be in a position to announce the successful partner in April.

"At the Priaulx, this is a key part of our strategy to make local records available to local and family historians around the world, and bring the library's offerings into the twenty-first century. We are very excited about this collaboration and the opportunities this will bring."

Vikki Hart, Island Archivist at the Island Archives, said:

"Guernsey is currently falling behind other jurisdictions in terms of availability of digitised records online, and this is an excellent opportunity to change that. It will not only make our records more accessible, especially to researchers who are unable to visit in person, but also help us to better preserve them in the long term. The more these documents are handled, the faster they can degrade, so providing an option to access them online will help us to preserve them for future generations.

"We would like to reassure locals and researchers alike, however, that physical access will still remain the same. This digitisation programme is about expanding researchers' options, not replacing access to the physical records."

There is not expected to be any cost to the organisations involved as the scanning and indexing work will be done by the tendering companies. They will host all of the digitised records on their website in an easily searchable format, which will be accessible for free for all visitors to the Priaulx Library, Greffe and Island Archives (as well as from home to subscribers).

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