for genealogists researching English families
MessageHi everyone:The following news release will be of interest to genealogists who are researching in English records.Lorna-----------------------------------------------------------
LONDON (Reuters) - People searching their ancestry have been given an online boost after BT launched more than one hundred years of their phone books on the web.
The company hopes to tap into the nation's huge interest in genealogy by allowing users to trawl through millions of names, addresses and phone numbers covering the period 1880 to 1984.
It is not just old relations that may turn up in the pages. In the days when ex-directory was less popular, Winston Churchill, Buckingham Palace, Alfred Hitchcock, Oswald Mosley, and John Profumo could all be found in the phonebook.
At one stage, BT allowed brief job descriptions. The author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, of Victoria 1436, was listed as a barrister, while Houdini could be found under "handcuff king".
BT has linked up with Ancestry.co.uk to host the phone books.
They have started with Greater London, which contains 72 million names and covers the areas Surrey, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent and Middlesex.
They hope to complete all 250 million names by the end of next year.
Family history enthusiasts will be able to search by name, year and county, helping them fill in any gaps in their ancestor and house histories.
Josh Hanna, managing director of Ancestry.co.uk, said: "The British phone books collection is an important and fascinating addition to our online records and provides family and social historians with unique twentieth century information which has been very difficult to find up until now."
The books go up to 1984 - the date of BT's privatisation.
David Hay, head of heritage at BT archives, said: "Since their introduction in 1880, phone books have provided a unique snapshot of communities in Britain in a regular and familiar format, making them an ideal source for both family and social historians."
Ancestry.co.uk also hosts the complete collection of all seven England and Wales censuses from 1841 to 1901, and birth, marriage and death records from 1837.