3 lesser-known free university digital projects for family history


17 August 2018
There’s a wealth of free family history information available on a wide range of British university research project websites, just waiting to be discovered. Here are three that you may not have known about, which you could use to research your ancestors...

There’s a wealth of family history information available on a wide range of British university research project websites just waiting to be discovered – for free!


You may well already have used the University of Leicester’s Historical Directories of England and Wales and come across the likes of the fantastic Old Bailey Online, but there are plenty more out there on the world wide web to explore.


We've picked out some of our other, perhaps lesser-known, favourite university projects for The Family History Website Directory, a special guide to 101 best genealogy websites, published in the October 2018 issue of Family Tree, on sale in the UK and digital from 28 August 2018.


The internet can be a bewildering place and our handpicked selection covers key areas of ancestor research to help you find the answers you seek.


Here are just 3 of our favourites from the website directory.


1 Railway Work, Life & Death
The Railway Work, Life and Death project is a joint project between the University of Portsmouth and the National Railway Museum (NRM), along with other institutions such as The National Archives, to record railway worker accidents in Britain and Ireland in the early 20th century. Volunteers have extracted genealogical information from accident reports produced by the Railway Inspectorate between 1911 and 1915 and compiled a downloadable database. Researchers can also contribute family stories.


2 Our Criminal Ancestors
Launched in 2018, this public engagement partnership project, involving the University of Hull and Leeds Beckett University, encourages and supports people to explore the criminal past of their own families, communities, towns and regions from 1700-1939. This can also include victims, witnesses, prisoners, police, prison officers, solicitors, magistrates etc. Family history enthusiasts are also invited to contribute research stories.


3 Legacies of British Slave-ownership
This website from University College London features a free searchable database of slave-owners, plus maps and studies of the estates and plantations.


Other stories that might interest you:

Top 3 free websites for using historic court records for your family history

• 3 free websites for researching your ancestors' occupations