Transcription Tuesday 2018: Join the Ancestry World Archives Project team!

By Jon Bauckham, 8 January 2018 - 4:42pm

For WDYTYA? Magazine’s second annual Transcription Tuesday event on 23 January, Jon Bauckham will be indexing Bedfordshire Poor Law records for the Ancestry World Archives Project. In this blog post, he explains why you should join him…

  • Register for Transcription Tuesday 2018 here
  • Click here to read blog posts about the four other projects
Monday 8 January 2018
Jon Bauckham, Features Editor
Read more blog posts from the magazine team


The project aims to create a searchable index of people who received assistance from Bedfordshire's Poor Law unions

Where has a year gone? It only feels like yesterday that I was helping to organise the magazine’s first-ever Transcription Tuesday event last January, and here we are again! It was a great success and I’m confident that we can repeat this in 2018.

This time I’ve decided to choose the Ancestry World Archives Project’s initiative to index the Bedfordshire Poor Law collection. Digitised from original material held by Bedfordshire Archives, the set features thousands of records relating to the administration of the county’s workhouses and Poor Law institutions during the 19th and early-20th centuries.

It’s a truly remarkable collection of documents, revealing how the poorest members of society were treated before the creation of the welfare state. Whether it’s an apprenticeship indenture, vaccination record or asylum register, each item has a remarkable story to tell.

However, as well as the chance to explore a fascinating area of British social history, volunteering for the project will also allow you to help fellow researchers.

Once all the records have been indexed (and made searchable), they will be available for users to access via the Ancestry database – completely free of charge. Even if you don’t have Bedfordshire ancestors, it’s likely that you will have benefited from the Ancestry World Archives Project in the past. Over the past ten years, over 145,000 contributors have helped to index more than 300 million records!

So, if you’re up for a challenge and want to give something back to the genealogical community, please join my Transcription Tuesday team by completing the sign-up form here.

It’s arguably the trickiest of the five projects we’ve selected this year, so I would recommend spending a bit of time reading the instructions at the bottom of this page and ideally doing a ‘test run’ ahead of 23 January.

If you’re having trouble, don’t worry – I’ll be emailing tips and further guidelines to everyone who joins my team in the days leading up to the event. Good luck!

Getting started

[N.B. The Bedfordshire Poor Law collection contains a variety of different records, some of which can be quite difficult to read or interpret. It is highly recommended that you spend some time reading the project's Ancestry Wiki page before getting stuck in!]

Step 1
Go to and log into your Ancestry account.

If you don’t already have an Ancestry account, click on ‘Sign up today’ and follow the instructions to create one free of charge. But don’t worry – you don’t need to purchase a subscription in order to contribute towards the Ancestry World Archives Project.

Step 2
Once you have logged in, navigate to the Ancestry World Archives Project homepage at and click on the orange ‘Get Started’ button.

Step 3
You’ll then be prompted to install Ancestry’s free Keying Tool software on your computer. The instructions will be different depending on which internet browser you use and whether you are a PC or Mac user, but the process should take no more than a few minutes. Please follow all steps carefully.

Step 4
Once the installation process is complete, launch the software and enter your Ancestry login details in the pop-up window that appears.

Step 5
Click on the ‘Download Image Sets’ button in the top right-hand corner of the software.

Step 6
Next, select ‘Bedfordshire, England, Workhouse and Poor Law Records’ and click ‘Download’. If you would like to work on more than one record during your session, simply change the number in the ‘Download X Image Set(s)’ box at the bottom of the window.

Step 7
You will now be taken to a data entry screen. At the top of the window there will be a scan of an original record taken from the Bedfordshire Poor Law collection, while at the bottom you will see a series of fields in which you can start typing the information you see above.

For a detailed guide to indexing records and using the Keying Tool software, click here. As mentioned above, I also recommend that you spend some time reading the Ancestry Wiki page on the Bedfordshire Poor Law records project here.


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