HISTORY lovers in Portsmouth will have an 'invaluable' resource at their fingertips now that all the city's archives have been digitised for online access.
In a report compiled for a culture, leisure and sport meeting this week officers revealed that the entirety of Portsmouth's archives have been uploaded to the internet by genealogy service Findmypast.
Anyone will be able to access the information by registering to the site which holds over eight billion records from across the UK.
As part of a mammoth project that began last year Portsmouth City Council joined forces with Findmypast to digitise all the city’s records, from baptism, marriage and burial registers as well as archives linked to Portsmouth’s naval history with crew lists available.
The council’s boss for culture, Cllr Steve Pitt, was hopeful local residents would make use of the service that has not cost the council anything.
He said: ‘A huge amount of work has gone into this, both by the council and with our partner, Findmypast.
‘The most important thing about it is people have changed the way they access these kind of materials and it it important that the council responds to this. It also ensures our archives are preserved.
‘There is also increasing interest around family history thanks to TV programmes such as 'Who Do You Think You Are?'
'It is important that people will have the best access to the information. It is an exciting new way for people to access the information.
‘I am very grateful to all the people who were involved and I hope people will find it invaluable.
‘And of course we still have the resources for people to access the archives in person, not just online.’
Lindy Elliott, the library and archive services manager at the council added: ‘This is a long-term project to digitise and index our records, which is time consuming task; by working with Findmypast we have been able to achieve this at no cost to the council.
‘Having Portsmouth's records available online provides a valuable insight for anyone researching their family history or the social history of the city and we're delighted that we're able to achieve this.’
The digitising of archives was completed in June although the indexing of the records will continue throughout the year.
Launches will also be scheduled for Portsmouth’s crew lists, rate books, quarter session papers and electoral rolls to ensure the users know how to find them online.
The originals will be retained in the Portsmouth history collection and can still be accessed by the public, although the council believe that the benefit of digitisation is that it allows access for people across the world and without damaging the original documents.
Findmypast is free to register and users can currently search the site without payment for the first two weeks.
Further details of the service will be discussed at a council meeting tomorrow.