Everyone loves a good story, and a criminal or convict in the family pretty much guarantees it. Some fabulous news just out, is that England’s National Archives‘ crime, courts and convicts collection, consisting of around three million records, will be transcribed, digitised and published online by brightsolid, parent company of findmypast.co.uk and findmypast.com.au.

The vast collection which comprises of bound volumes and loose papers dating from 1782 onwards, includes records from the Home Office, Prison Commission, Metropolitan Police, Central Criminal Court and the Admiralty.

The criminal and convict records will be searchable by name, alias, date of birth, place, offence and sentence. And content such as judges’ reports, prison registers, transfer papers and gaolers’ reports will also be included.

Caroline Kimbell, Head of Licensing at The National Archives, said: ‘By making these important sets of historical records available online, more people than ever before can uncover hidden stories of crime and punishment from the archives. Being able to add these popular records to the growing list of The National Archives’ resources available digitally is yet more evidence of the importance and effectiveness of forming partnerships across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.’

Elaine Collins, Business Development Director at brightsolid commented: ‘Brightsolid is very much looking forward to digitising and publishing online for the first time these amazing records from the national collection, making them available to an ever growing audience of family historians worldwide.’

The digitisation project is a huge undertaking with conservation, scanning, image processing and quality control work needed. This will be a labour and time intensive manual scanning project with around 1.84 million images (pages) making up the records. Both the conservation and scanning stages are expected to take around 18 months to complete, with the first tranche of records expected to be published online from December 2012.

I can guarantee that I’ll be marking my calendar for Decemeber 2012, and waiting patiently (ok, ok … in truth it’s impatiently) for these records, as I need do do some more work on my hubby’s convicts. So hopefully by then I’ll have more time to actually spend doing my own research, which at present seems to have been unintentionally put on hold, due to the busyness of life.

In the meantime a BIG THANKYOU in advance to The National Archives, and to brightsolid, for organising this partnership, and bringing these valuable records to people who otherwise wouldn’t have  easy access to them.