FamilySearch announced May 2 it is working with the United Kingdom's 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 the 18th to the 20th centuries.
Findmypast.com and FamilySearch have been 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.
The Chelsea Pensioners and Militia Records project will be a three-year undertaking to 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 to 1913.
The records track 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.
The Board of Trade's merchant seamen records from the periods 1835 to 1844 and 1918 to 1941 will also be digitized and indexed.
Many of the 20th 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 merchant seamen.
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.