The annual reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records — Ireland’s chief archivist from 1867 to 1922 — are a treasure trove of information about the growth and the development of the new archive. They contain thousands of individual document summaries and descriptions of archival series.
From 1869, two years after it opened its doors, until its destruction in 1922, the Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI) published annual reports tracing its development from an empty six-storey repository to a bustling archive urgently seeking additional space.
But the Deputy Keepers’ reports are far more than mere administrative accounts. They contain the stories of crucial collections of Irish historical documents, detailed descriptions of major record series and thousands of summaries of original records destroyed in 1922.
In over 200 appendices, the Reports present 83 indexes to lost collections, and dozens of extracts and complete transcriptions of significant documents. Across twenty-one years, from 1869 to 1890, they trace the PROI’s arduous work on the fiants, royal instructions to officials in Dublin on a wide variety of government business.
Arranging, flattening, cleansing, calendaring and indexing this vast collection of 8,889 records, the staff of the PROI made them safely available to the public. By writing and printing a 2,321 page calendar to the fiants the PROI ensured that their historical content would survive the catastrophe which befell the physical parchment and paper.
In many of the early reports, schematic diagrams of the layout of the interior of the Record Treasury show where major collections were shelved, often noting those a series which were growing with the addition of annual increments. The evolution of archival practice in Ireland and Britain can be traced through their pages in reports on cataloguing, conservation and the physical arrangement of the collections.
This collection brings together searchable, digitised, images of the Deputy Keepers’ Reports from 1869 through to 1921.
You can also browse the full collection. The main administrative sections and individual appendices are listed separately. Each section of digitised pages, both main report and appendix, is word-searchable.