Grant awarded to explore new ways to bring property records to life

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The Property Registration Authority and partners have received funding to explore new ways of making our historic Registry of Deeds records more accessible and user friendly.

On 1 August 2020, the Property Registration Authority joined with archival partners National Records of Scotland, and research partners Trinity College Dublin and the University of Glasgow to begin a research project exploring ways of making two of Ireland and Scotland’s largest record collections for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries more accessible and user friendly.

This project is funded by a grant awarded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council & Irish Research Council Digital Humanities Research Networking scheme to Dr Andrew MacKillop (University of Glasgow) and Dr Patrick Walsh (Trinity College Dublin). This scheme aims to foster research cooperation across institutions on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Liz Pope Chief Executive of the PRA says:

“The PRA is responsible for the Registry of Deeds which consists of a large, unique and very significant body of historical records relating to property transactions in Ireland. We are pleased to support this new research network which aligns with our long term vision to develop a digitisation strategy to make the historical records of the Registry of Deeds available and discoverable online” 

Ellen Murphy, Archives Manager of the PRA says:

“The research network will be hugely beneficial to us in exploring the potential of using new technology to increase public engagement and access to the Registry of Deeds. We look forward to collaborating with the research project partners, as well as engaging with the different user groups of both the Registry of Deeds and Sasines Register”

The Registry of Deeds (Ireland), held by the Property Registration Authority in Dublin, and the Scottish Registers of Sasines, held by the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, are among the most comprehensive historic land records anywhere in western Europe. Although currently used largely in relation to legal matters of ownership, these documents contain a wealth of information on all aspects of life, society and locality in Ireland and in Scotland from the early 1700s to the present.

The project brings together the archival expertise of the Property Registration Authority and National Records of Scotland with digital humanities specialists, historians, and historical linguists at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Glasgow.  

This digital partnership aims to develop automatic transcriptions of sample volumes from the early 1700s. The second stage will involve Trinity College Dublin’s Digital Research Centre (ADAPT) working with archivists, historians, linguists and other users to develop new, flexible methods of searching the records. The longer-term aim is to consolidate creative partnerships between archives, universities and cultural and heritage groups in Ireland and Scotland.