Centuries of city’s history to reach global online audience

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CIVIC archives spanning the last 800 years will be placed on to an online database to open up details of York’s famous history to a global audience.

The project will create the first complete online database of the city’s archives, which contain more than 6,500ft of documents that preserve the memories and voices of thousands of citizens throughout the centuries.

The new internet database will also be part of the celebrations next year to mark the 800th anniversary of the city receiving its Charter in 1212.

The scheme is being funded by a grant of nearly £40,000 from The National Archives, and the cash will also be used to replace an existing paper catalogue, which has been in continuous use since a former deputy town clerk, William Giles, created it in 1909.

York Council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and social inclusion, Coun Sonja Crisp, said: “This is fantastic news as the civic archives are one of York’s most important heritage collections and are recognised as one of the most significant civic archives outside London.

“This new catalogue will be one of the long-term legacies of the York 800 celebrations.”

The civic archives contain the original records of York’s city government for more than 800 years.

The earliest document dates from 1155, and from 1476 to the present day the archive provides an unbroken record of how York’s residents have run their city.

York Council’s archivist for civic records, Victoria Hoyle, said: “This project is the key to unlocking one of York’s hidden treasures. It’s incredible to think some documents in our collection are older than York Minster and the City Walls.

“An archive isn’t just a room full of paper and parchment, it’s a repository of community memory and identity. The new catalogue database will open up this amazing resource as never before.”

During the project, each section of the archive will be examined and described by a project archivist who will create an online searchable catalogue.

The catalogue will open up the collection for historical research, and support learning activities and an outreach programme designed to broaden the public appeal of York’s heritage.

The two-year project is due to begin in April next year.