To celebrate the launch of the Explore Your Archive week (18-26 November 2017) we go behind the scenes of the Ancestor Homes collection.
Our sister company is a large landlord with some 55,000 property interests in England & Wales, which means it has an extensive strongroom filled to the brim with deeds and other property related documents. Some of the documents relate to very modern properties that might only be a year old, but the vast majority are from the Victorian period. The earliest we have located to date is from the 1550s!
Project Manager Rhian O’Malley has worked for the landlord for 7 years and throughout this time has thought about how fascinating the collection could be for a family historian or property researcher. Rhian has been working on her own family tree for the last 5 years and a major focus of her research has been where her ancestors lived.
The whole team relishes the challenge of working for a start up like Ancestor Homes. At this stage we do not know how many deeds we hold pre-dating 1935; it could be as many as 100,000! So far 6,000 deeds have been scanned, of which 1,700 are on our database.
Our first job is to digitise the full collection. We employ a Digital Archivist and 2 Preservation Officers who ensure that the deeds are scanned to a high quality and catalogued for future use. By doing this work, these deeds should no longer need to be accessed on a daily basis as staff will access digital copies instead, protecting them for hundreds of years to come.
Once the deeds have been scanned and catalogued, they are picked up by our team of transcribers who index them into our database. They extract key details such as names, addresses, occupations and dates. Every database entry is double checked to ensure that our data is of the highest standard.
We currently upload new data to our website on a monthly basis, with approximately 4,000 new names being uploaded each time. Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to ensure that you are the first to know of future updates. Furthermore, while our database is still being created we invite people to contact us directly if they are looking for a specific property or street so that we can see if we hold any deeds.