Research Resources and News

New Publication

The First Great Charity of This Town: Belfast Charitable Society and Its Role in the Developing City  (Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 2022). Edited by Olwen Purdue and with a chapter by Robyn Acheson on ‘Poorhouse to pandemic: medical relief and public health in early nineteenth-century Belfast’.

SSNCI Conference

Just a quick note on some upcoming events involving our members;

The Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland (SSNCI) are hosting their annual conference in Queen’s University, Belfast on 26-27 June 2014. The theme will be ‘Irish Urban Spaces in the nineteenth century’ with Plenary Speakers Prof Roey Sweet and Prof David Dickson lined up to contribute. A call for papers has been released and a deadline of March 14,

2014, stands. We welcome papers to speak to this theme; you can see the call for papers at SSNCI 2014 CFP. 

Proposals, including an abstract of the paper and a brief curriculum vitae should be sent to

‘Twenty Years a-growing: an international conference on the history of Irish childhood from the medieval to the modern age’ is being held in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin, 9-10 June 2014. The network are hoping to create a database on for the study of Irish childhood and would welcome contributions from people researching in the area. Click here for further details.

As part of the conference, they are compiling a database of sources for the study of the history of childhood in Ireland. They would be grateful if you would contribute details of any sources, primary and secondary, that you have found useful, such as manuscripts, printed publications, photographic collections, ephemera etc.


Note: This list is by no means exhaustive and we are only at the beginning of compiling relevant resources for those interested in researching the history of poverty and public health on the island of Ireland. If you have any suggestions or would like to add anything to the list please email Georgina Laragy at

Please check back as we update our website and this resource list.


PRONI, Belfast

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland holds a huge amount of public and private documents that relate mainly to Ireland from the early seventeenth century to the present day. These include a variety of sources on poverty, the poor, medical care and the sick.

National Archives of Ireland, Dublin

National Archives of Ireland contains a wealth of material both locally and centrally generated that includes themes relevant to this project, and those interested in social and political history more generally.

National Library of Ireland, Dublin

National Library of Ireland contains manuscript and printed material relating to Ireland’s rich history. It also holds the records of the National Photographic Archive and the Office of the Chief Herald.

Linen Hall Library, Belfast

The Linen Hall Library is Belfast’s oldest library dating back to the end of the eighteenth century. It contains manuscript and genealogical source material in its Local Studies Collection.


Census of Ireland, 1901 and 1911

By locating on the townland in which your local workhouse was located, you can find the census returns from that workhouse. Use the Ordnance Survey of Ireland to discover the townland (see link below).  Note: for the most part, the names of people were not given, only their initials. This tended to be the case in all institutions including prisons, workhouses, lunatic asylums and hospitals.

 JSTOR Irish Collection

Title list for all journals and publications in their Irish Collection. This contains journals published in various disciplines including history, archaeology, literature, mathematics, biology and many more.


Documenting Ireland: Parliament, people and migration. Contains a wealth of information about the poor via the parliamentary papers and material related to emigration.


Queen’s University, Belfast

Images of the Irish Famine from Queen’s University, School of English.

 National Photographic Archive

Held in the National Library of Ireland in Dublin this archive contains a wealth of visual imagery from the nineteenth century up to the present day. It hosts a digital photograph database available online.

Online videos

Irish Workhouse Centre at Portumna

The Victorian Workhouse

Southwell Workhouse on BBC’s The One Show

More on Southwell Workhouse from the University of Nottingham

Bawnboy Workhouse, Co. Cavan.

Birr Union Workhouse, Co. Offaly.

Limavady Workhouse, Co. Derry/Londonderry.


Irish Historic Towns Atlas

These are not available digitally as yet, but are available in local and university libraries, and can be purchased from the Royal Irish Academy. See for a digital map of Derry/Londonderry.

 Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland


Historical maps from OSNI, requires an extra plug-in for viewing. (Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland).  Extra information on the history of these maps can be found at PRONI

 Ordnance Survey of Ireland

Explore the historic ordnance survey map of Ireland using the tools on this website which includes maps produced in the nineteenth century that cover the entire island.

Northern Ireland Environment Agency

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency hosts historical map viewing for Northern Ireland.

Irish Poor Law maps (Oxford Brookes University)

Maps showing rates of relief in poor law unions (showing boundaries) in 1851, 1871, 1891 and 1911; derived from annual reports of Poor Law Commissioners and Local Government Board.


Here are a list of websites containing useful information on workhouses in Britain and Ireland.

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