Papers of the Famine Relief Commission, set up at the time of the Great Famine in Ireland in the late 1840s, have been made available online.
Ancestry.co.uk has put online the papers, which are held by the National Archives of Ireland, and provided the following information:
“Blight appeared among the Irish potato crop in September 1845, blackening leaves and finally spreading to the potatoes themselves. Many of Ireland’s poor depended wholly on the potato for food, and when the crop failed in successive years, hunger and malnutrition were followed by disease and death. In less than a decade, as many as a million Irish would die, and even more would emigrate. More than a century and a half later, the country’s population had still not returned to pre-Famine levels.
“The temporary Relief Commission was formed in November 1845 to oversee relief efforts, distribute food, collect information, and advise the government on the famine, the people, and aid efforts. Members of the Commission represented government departments, including the constabulary, coast guard, poor law commission, army, and board of works. The commission would be reorganized and disbanded in 1846 and then formed again in February 1847. Relief efforts would include importing corn, public works, soup kitchens, and workhouses.
Famine Relief Commission Papers
“This database consists of two sub-series of Famine Relief Commission records held by the National Archives of Ireland.
“The Baronial Sub-Series makes up the largest portion of the Relief Commission records. It consists of letters and other documents received by the Commission primarily from September 1846 through April 1847, though some earlier documents have been integrated into the collection. The Numerical Sub-Series consists of letters received by the Commission from November 1845 through August 1846, with a few dated up until May 1847.
“These letters and other documents came from members of local relief committees, lieutenants of counties, clergy, and other citizens, and they touch on a broad spectrum of issues: reports on local food prices and relief efforts, requests for funds, lists of subscribers who had (or had failed) to donate to relief funds, queries about work projects or seed corn, names of committee members, even a recipe for rice and oatmeal “stirabout” one organization had used to feed the hungry and claims to be able to predict outbreaks of blight or snippets from the Bible a concerned citizen thought related to the crisis.
“Between these two series, these records contain more than 10,000 names and provide an intimate view on a defining moment in modern Irish history.”
I took a look at the papers relating to Aghadowey in County Derry, where my ancestors lived, and found a lot of interesting information, including lists of contributors to the relief effort.