I have been a member of Ancestry since way back. I have availed myself of the several resources there quite happily, but from time to time, have scratched my head wondering how things were indexed. Now this project has been going on for ages, but I guess I finally took my blinders off and actually noticed the sidebar that was impelling me to jump in and help out with the World Archives Project. What does that mean? It means being able to lend your time to key information from original records that then allow those records to be searchable on Ancestry for all of us. I wish I had found this earlier.
Now, there are always several projects going on, and your ability to choose what you can help key will not always mean that you can see projects super relevant to your own research interests, but I have found that I don’t care anymore if it’s something I am currently researching, because this is opening my eyes to types of records I might not have realised existed.
I do research for my own family, and my partner’s (that’s de facto spouse for all of you non-Australians) but also for friends, and for clients. I have been doing this for over 20 years, and for all the brick walls and frustrations that are endemic to such research, I absolutely adore it.
So, back to the title we go.
“The Committee is Placed in A Most Painful Situation”
This is from a record I am currently keying from the collection of the “Ireland, Famine Relief Commission Papers.”
This was the project I first started out with at the good old WAP (World Archives Project), but I have since other record collections currently being keyed to my repertoire. I am just one in a veritable army of volunteers who give whatever time they have to key as much as they can.
This project DOES speak to me, as a goodly number of branches of my family tree emigrated to the United States from Ireland as a result of the Great Hunger. The parts of this collection that I have personally seen are mostly letters from Poor Relief Commissions in various parishes across Ireland to the Head Office in Dublin regarding the state of affairs wherever they are, and they are heartbreaking.
I have read numerous books regarding the Great Hunger, and the realities of how the Government was responding took my breath away – horrid things that gave me goosebumps like working to create a soup recipe for the soup kitchens that did not have too much meat, so it would not be too expensive to produce. As another example, the data on the amount of edible foodstuffs that were exported out of Ireland while Ireland was starving broke my heart. (If you’re interested, find “The Great Hunger” by Cecil Woodham Smith, just to start).
But this is the first time I have been able to see original letters like these, imploring for better assistance. Descriptions of the conditions that were flummoxing esquires and constables all over that beautiful green Island. I have not seen any letters yet from my own family’s various parishes, but this continues to embellish the pictures I have conjured up in my head of what my ancestors must have been going through to make such a giant decision to emigrate, likely never to see their family at home again.
“The number of unemployed labourers has increased considerably within the last week, and the committee is placed in a most painful situation – surrounded by groups of able bodied men, without having it in our power to afford them any relief — The Landlords have contributed nothing since I last wrote you. They have been grossly deficient and were it not for the bounty of Government, the people would have been suffered to perish.” — 1846
It’s been ages since I’ve posted, but I felt the need to put this out there – these records will be available for all when the keying work is done, and even if you don’t have ancestors that bring this record collection up when you search for more information about them, please browse the collection regardless. It has been eye-opening.