British photographic history

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London Lives: An online archive into 18th century Britain

I'm not sure if this recently published archive is useful to those photo historians wishing to trace the ancestry of some early photographers, as it focuses on those at the bottom rung of London society between 1690 to 1800! But I thought I'd post it, just in case.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and produced by the universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire, London Lives, a five-year project, involved digitising eight London archives or up to 240,000 manuscripts and printed pages. It features a rich variety of documents previously all but inaccessible to the public.

The site allows both amateur and professional historians to search the archives for individuals recorded in workhouses, criminal registers, coroners' reports, court orders and papers governing the dispensation of poor relief.

Users of the free site will be able to read scans of the original documents and typed text versions. The idea to map the lives of ordinary Londoners was conceived following the success of a project that digitised the Old Bailey's records. There was a proliferation of documents in urban Britain in the 18th century as civil society flourished and the relationship between the individual and the state was transformed. It is this paper trail that historians will be able to trace in pursuit of an individual's life story.

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