Here's some good news for those of us researching British ancestors...
SALT LAKE CITY-FamilySearch announced today it is working with the UK family history Web site www.findmypast.com and The National Archives of the United Kingdom to increase access to select British historical records. The first major projects will provide access to millions of names of deceased British soldiers and seamen from eighteenth to twentieth century.
Findmypast.com and FamilySearch were recently awarded licenses by The National Archives to digitize and make available both the Chelsea Pensioners retired soldiers records between 1760 and 1914, and the Merchant Seamen's collection of records dating from 1835 to 1941.
Chelsea Pensioners and Militia Records
The three-year project will digitize and index nine million images from the War Office's Royal Hospital Chelsea Soldiers' Service documents dating from 1760 and Militia Attestation Papers documents from 1870, through to 1913.
The records truly bring to life the comings and goings of pensioners (patients) in the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including each ex-serviceman's name, age, birthplace and service history, as well as details of physical appearance, conduct sheet, previous occupation, and in some cases the reason for discharge. After 1883, details of marriages and children may also appear.
Merchant Seamen Records
The Board of Trade's merchant seamen records from the periods 1835 to 1844 and 1918 to 1941 will also be digitized and indexed. When the project is complete, the public will be able to easily search online for the names and date and place of birth of ancestors who served as merchant seamen.
Many of the twentieth century records include portrait photographs of the sailors as well as personal details and summaries of their voyages. The records include people of many nationalities and women's service records.
Nearly a third of UK families have ancestors who served as a merchant seaman, and many Americans have British roots, making this series of records extremely important to genealogists and family historians.
FamilySearch will digitize the records on site at The National Archives, and Findmypast.com will create indexes and transcriptions to enable online patrons to easily search the records and images at both www.findmypast.com and www.familysearch.org.
Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at findmypast.com said, "This is great news for anyone who has hit a brick wall in their family history research. Servicemen and merchant seamen played a hugely important role in the United Kingdom's military, economic and social history. The details included in these two sets of records will open up a wealth of new information about their lives to family history enthusiasts and military historians alike."