Thursday, March 26, 2009

Workhouse records go online and reveal British roots of millions worldwide

By Beth Hale
Last updated at 12:05 AM on 27th March 2009

They reveal some of the most intriguing, shocking and downright bizarre family trees in British history.

Among other fascinating insights, they prove that Britney Spears has roots in Tottenham, while relatives of billionaire JK Rowling grew up in the impoverished East End.

Yet for centuries the workhouse records, wills and school reports that can unlock the secrets of our ancestors' lives have been hidden in obscure archives.

Workhouse picture

Taste of the past: Dickensian pictures of women eating in London workhouses can be seen on the website

Soon, however, tens of millions of such records - containing 400 years of rich history - will be just a click of the mouse away.

Yesterday the first stage in a project to put the records online was completed, when 230,000 records relating to Victorian workhouses were made available.


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