Genealogy website of the week - The Irish Schools Collection
My website of the week is The Schools Collection in Ireland. Were your parents or grandparents among the 50,000 young children from 5,000 schools who participated in the Irish National Folklore project in the 1930s? Or were they perhaps among the teachers who also contributed their own folklore stories?
Read on to learn about this unique digitized collection and online database . On this website you will search by name and discover images of the children’s original work as well as the stories they told.
Above: Sample page from The Schools Collection
The Irish National Folklore Collection objectives are to “collect, preserve and disseminate the oral tradition of Ireland”. Among its holdings is The Schools Collection which consists of 740,000 pages of folklore and local tradition which were written by pupils from 5,000 primary schools in the Irish Free State between 1937 and 1939.
The project was conducted in conjunction with the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers’ Organization without whose cooperation the massive folklore project would not have been possible at the time.
The children were tasked with collecting information from their parents, grandparents and neighbours about oral history, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, games and pastimes, trades and crafts.
Forty per cent of the collection is still in the pupils’ original exercise books with the remainder having been transferred to bound volumes during the intervening years.
Believed to be one of the largest folklore collections in the world, The Schools Collection is being digitized and records are released online progressively. The records are organised along County lines and include:
the school name;
individual students' names;
an image of each student's folklore stories in their own handwriting.
Other names are often listed in the children’s work, however, they are not indexed.
If your family’s school is not yet online then you can volunteer to transcribe that specific group of records if you do not want to wait until they are published.
This is a marvellous, if unexpected, family history source. It is well worth a few minutes to see if your family members participated in capturing Ireland’s traditional folklore nearly 80 years ago. In my own case, my father’s school is only 50% completed. Being the impatient type I will volunteer to help transcribe the Mount Bruis school in Co. Tipperary.
I would love to hear from you in the Comments Section below if you find any of your own family in The Schools Collection.
Happy Irish ancestor hunting.
Your Family Genealogist
Picture : Sample from The Schools Collection