More than 400 years of fascinating historical documents held at Archives are to be and made available online, thanks to an agreement between Suffolk County Council and Ancestry.
Suffolk Archives will work alongside family history website Ancestry to create high quality, full colour digital images of millions of baptism, marriage and burial records from parishes within the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
The earliest records being digitised date back as to 1538 and include events in the lives of notable historical figures, such as the 1776 baptism of landscape artist John Constable, and the 1846 burial of Thomas Clarkson who devoted his life to the abolition of slavery.
It is hoped that Suffolk’s main parish records will be published online in early 2025 with other collections of local interest to follow. Public access will be free of charge in Suffolk Archives branches or at any Suffolk Library. Anyone with an Ancestry subscription will also be able to access the records as part of their research from their own computer or device.
Gary Peverley, Acting Diocesan Secretary, Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich said: “Suffolk Archives is the official record office for the diocese, and they store a huge amount of material. This is an exciting project to digitise Suffolk’s parish registers and transcripts with Ancestry. Going forward it will make it easier to draw on the archives and offer improved preservation of the original registers ensuring they are readily available to everyone in the future”.
Cllr Bobby Bennett, Cabinet Member for Equality and Communities, said: “Exploring your family tree has never been more popular and technology is making it easier and more accessible than ever before. This new agreement will lead to more than four centuries of fascinating documents, held by Suffolk Archives, being professionally digitised and made available online on Ancestry. As a result, anyone with Suffolk roots anywhere in the world will be able to learn more about their ancestors at a click of a button”.
Kristian Lafferty, Senior Content Acquisition Manager at Ancestry adds: “Ancestry is delighted to be working alongside Suffolk Archives to make these unique historic collections available online for the first time. The archive service does an exceptional job of caring for, curating and preserving the rich cultural heritage of Suffolk, and we’re proud to be working together on the digitisation and publication of documents representing hundreds of years of Suffolk history. These records will be a priceless resource for those who want to research their Suffolk roots in the UK and all over the world, providing valuable insight into the lives of many people’s ancestors from the region, alongside some of Suffolk’s most notable residents.”