Findmypast has made two and a half million Dublin workhouse records available online.
Admission & Discharge Registers 1840-1919
Findmypast says: “Containing over 1.5 million records, the Dublin Workhouses Admission & Discharge Registers 1840-1919 list the details of those who passed through the workhouses of the North and South Dublin Unions. Levels of poverty in Ireland were far higher than in England and the workhouse was often an inescapable part of life that would have touched many, if not most Dublin families.
“The North and South Dublin Unions were among the busiest in Ireland, not simply because they were in the capital but because they often took in paupers from across the country. This was especially true during the years of the Great Famine in the 1840s when crowds of desperate, starving people came to Dublin from all over the country.
“Given the lack of 19th century census material in Ireland, the registers will be an incredibly valuable resource to those with Irish ancestors. Dublin was the largest point of embarkation from Ireland during the 19th century era of mass Catholic migration and a significant number of those who emigrated would have passed through these workhouses.
“Each record includes a transcript and an image of the original document. Entries list arrivals at the workhouse with details of their age, occupation, religion, any illnesses or infirmities, other family members, original parish and condition when they arrived (usually describing clothes or cleanliness).
Board of Guardians Minute Books
“Containing nearly 900,000 records, the Dublin Poor Law Unions Board of Guardians Minute Books from the National Archives of Ireland contain fascinating records of meetings held by the Board of Guardians of four Dublin workhouses.
“The Board of Guardians oversaw the running of the poor law unions as well as the hiring of teachers, staff and contractors. Guardians were elected by those who paid the taxes that funded poor law relief. Each record contains a transcript and an image of the original handwritten minutes. The amount of information contained in the image can be considerable.
“The minute books recorded what was said at each meeting of the Board of Guardians, including correspondence and contracts but also individual cases that came before the Board. These include the day-to-day running of the workhouses, disciplinary matters concerning both staff and inmates, individual case histories, foundling children’s fostering and upkeep and the hiring of foster mothers and wet nurses.
“Later minute books follow a strict format to ensure that suitable care was taken about health provisions and deserted children. For the poor, the Union provided the only social security available, as without a public health system, the workhouse hospitals were often the only health care that they had access to.
More workhouse records to follow
“The Dublin workhouse records are the first Irish workhouse records to go online as part of this project. Findmypast is working with the National Archives of Ireland to bring workhouse records online from every county in Ireland. These records will be exclusive to Findmypast for five years.”